Uttarakhand look to maintain dominance

Uttarakhand look to maintain dominance

Led by their talisman Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Uttarakhand will look to continue their dominance in Indian basketball as the 66th Senior National Basketball Championships get underway at the Chamundi Vihar Stadium here on Saturday.

In 2015, the Uttarakhand side had put up a splendid show to get the better of Tamil Nadu in the final to reclaim the title that they had won in 2013. Apart from Bhriguvanshi, Uttarakhand side will have the services of top players like Riyaz Uddin and Murali Krishnan as they look to mount a serious assault on the title.

Challenging the title holders will be the Rikin Pethani-led Tamil Nadu side. Pethani, who was instrumental in India’s title winning run in the South Asian Basketball Championship last year, will have the support of senior Indian international Akhilan Pari, Pratham Singh and Aravind Annadurai.

Meanwhile, Karnataka, who are hosting the championships after a gap of 23 years, will have their hopes pinned on their power forward Arvind A. Having finished fifth in the previous edition and then improving their performance with a fourth place finish at the National Games last year, the State side will be hoping to take their performance to the next level when they take the court.

“In the past few years, we have had a good run at the national events. A fifth place finish at the Nationals and then a fourth place finish at the National Games in Kerala, so it’s been a steady progress. And this time too we want to improve on it,” said Arvind, who will be leading the men’s side.

Karnataka are group alongside Uttarakhand, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi in Group ‘A’ and will face Punjab in the opener on Saturday. Meanwhile in Group ‘B’, Tamil Nadu, Services, Kerala, Railways and Telangana will face off with the top three making it to the quarterfinals.

“Punjab is a strong opposition, there’s no doubt about it. They have some really big guys. Guys who can impose themselves on the game. We need to be really good in defence and play as a unit. And that’s something we will try to do tomorrow,” added the Karnataka skipper.

While the hosts will bank on the experience of their seniors like Arvind and Rajesh Uppar through the tournament, Punjab will rely heavily on the likes of Indian internationals Gurvinder Singh Gill and Akashdeep Hazara.

In the women’s section, 35-time champions Railways will be keen to get back to where they belong after letting the title slip of their grasp in 2015 to Chhattisgarh.  
Karnataka, who finished seventh in the previous edition and then built on that show to clinch a bronze medal at the National Games, is expected to have a difficult time with Railways, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Punjab being their rivals in the group stages.
DH News Service

Groupings: Men: Level 1: Group A: Uttarakhand, Haryana, Karnataka, Punjab, Delhi.

Group B: Tamil Nadu, Services, Railways, Kerala, Telangana.

Level 2: Group C: Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, Goa, Odisha, Puducherry.

Group D: Rajasthan, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Tripura.

Group E: Gujarat, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh.

Group F: West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh.

Women: Level 1: Group A: Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh.

Group B: Delhi, Railways, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Punjab.

Level 2: Group C: Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir.

Group D: Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha. Group E: Bihar, Gujarat, Puducherry, West Bengal.

Group F: Chandigarh, Goa, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan.

Match timings: 7:00 am onwards.
Venues: Matches will be played at the indoor courts of the Chamundi Vihar stadium and outdoor courts of the Mysore University.​