Uttarakhand set up final date with Services

Basketball Senior Nationals : It's Railways vs Kerala in women's final

Uttarakhand set up final date with Services

 It takes nerves of steel to pull your team from the grave in crunch situations. And the experienced India international Vishesh Bhrighuvanshi displayed just the same to help Uttarakahand edge past Tamil Nadu 71-69 in the semifinal of the 66th Senior National Basketball Championships here on Friday.

The title-holders will now take on Services, who beat Punjab 83-66 in the other semis, in the summit clash here at the Chamundi Vihar stadium on Saturday.

The defending champions were 20 points behind the S Baskar-coached Tamil Nadu going into the fourth quarter. But the deficit didn’t seem to bother Bhriguvanshi much as the 25-year-old power forward led his team with grit and determination in the final minutes of the tie.

The Varanasi-born player hit the deck with a couple of two pointers, while shooting guard Yadvinder Singh matched up to his team-mate with his accurate shooting. And when their confident guards Riyazuddin R and Trideep Rai sunk in a couple of shots from the key, the deficit didn’t exist as Tamil Nadu -- a side filled with India internationals – had no reply to the onslaught.

Even when his side was trailing with the margin floating in double digits, Bhriguvanshi hardly showed any signs of panic as he mounted a tremendous comeback. While it was difficult to break down an air tight Tamil Nadu defence, Bhriguvanshi found ways to break their rhythm with his quality runs on the counter and pin-point shooting from the arch. His valiant efforts saw him finish as the top scorer of the game with 21 points, 11 assists and one rebound.

Teaming up with his ever-reliable forward, Yadvinder was not much far behind. The product of the Ludhiana Basketball Academy, who entered the court with a persisting back problem, played an able role with 21 points, two rebounds and two assists.

While the two were impressive in the offence, the Uttarakhand defence didn’t match up to their game upfront. And the laxness allowed Tamil Nadu to dominate the proceedings for a long period in the tie. Though Rikkin Pethani and Pratham Singh were effective on the attacking front, a shambolic Uttarakhand defence made their job much easier.

Centre Murali Krishna and Yadvinder were the prime culprits for the title-holders as they couldn’t man their markers, resulting into easy points and unnecessary fouls inside the paint. Capitalising on their faults though Pethani (20 points) and Pratham (15 points) made the most of the opportunities, it was not enough as Uttarakhand eked out a narrow win to book their place in Saturday’s final.

In the women’s section, Kerala continued their terrific run at the Nationals to book a place in the final after a gap of 15 years. The PS Jeena-led side got the better of a high-flying Delhi side 82-41, and will now face Railways who drubbed Telangana 78-50 in their semifinal game.

Results: Men: Semifinals: Uttarakhand: 71 (Vishesh Bhrighuvanshi 21, Yadwinder Singh 21, Murali Krishna 11) bt Tamil Nadu: 69 (Rikin Pethani 20, Pratham Singh 15, Prasanna Venkatesh 11); Services: 83 (Jayram Jat 20, Ashutosh Rai 18, Joginder Singh 16) bt Punjab: 66 (Gurvinder Gill 16, Talwinder Singh 14, Gagandeep Singh 11). 5th to 8th place classification matches: Karnataka: 72 (Anil Kumar 20, Isaac I 10) bt Kerala: 50 (Jishnu Nair 12, Robin 11); Railways: 87 (Somvier S 24, Ajay Singh 18, Gaurav Ohlan 13) bt Gujarat: 76 (Kasi Rajan 29, Vinay Kaushik 21, Harpal 13). 9th and 10th place: Haryana: 66 (Amit 15, Ravi 12, Vijender 11) bt Chhattisgarh: 48 (Dinesh Mishra 10, Palash P 10).

Women: Semifinals: Railways: 78 (Anitha Pauldurai 20, Sitamani Tudu 13, Rajapriyadarshini 12) bt Telangana: 50 (Divya P 21, Ramya 10); Kerala: 82 (Jeena PS 30, Neenumol PS 11) bt Delhi: 41 (Pratima P 21, Raspreet Sidhu 15).

5th to 8th place classification matches: Tamil Nadu: 83 (CL Rini 20, Srividhya 17, Prithi 14) bt West Bengal: 76 (Anjana Dezy 29, Libina 26, Madhu Kumari 14); Chhattisgarh: 79 (Poonam Chaturvedi 34, Bharti 19) bt Punjab: 75 (Nirmal 29, Kirandeep 20, Indu Kumari 14).

9th and 10th place: Maharashtra: 61 (Kasturi More 11, Sangeeta Mandal 11) bt Rajasthan: 44 (Nisha Sharma 23).

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