Services down Railways in basketball nationals

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Mysuru, Jan 12 (IANS) Perennial favourites Services rode on strong performances from Mayur Bhat and Jairam Jat to beat former champions Railways 78-61 in a high voltage men’s level one clash at the 66th Senior National Basketball Championship being held at the Chamundi Vihar Stadium here on Tuesday.

Bhat, the Services sixth man, made a major impact off the bench as he turned the game in his team’s favour with his 20 points. The experienced Jairam Jat also ran the Railways defence ragged, scoring 20 points. Setu S.M. and Ashutosh Rai chipped in with identical scores of 13.

For Railways, Ajay Pratap Singh (14) and Himanshu Sharma (12) strived valiantly in a losing cause.

Both teams were equally matched in the opening quarter but Services outscored their opponents in the second and third periods to build up a comfortable lead.

In another level one game, Delhi registered their first win of the tournament by beating Karnataka 84-73. Gopal Ram (33) was in superb form for Delhi with Parveen Dovan (22) providing some excellent support. Anil Kumar (24) was the highest scorer for Karnataka while Sashi Kumar (13) and Sashi S. (12) also played well.

The game was anticipated to be a close battle with little to separate the teams. Karnataka got off to a quick start by taking an early lead. Forward Anil Kumar took the bulk of the scoring load for Karnataka along with Sashi.

But late in the second quarter, the game turned after Karnataka centre Arvind Arumugam caught an inadvertent elbow from Delhi forward Gopal Ram that forced him out of the game. The second half was a completely different affair with the tall and sturdy Delhi players scoring easily with no defensive presence for Karnataka on the inside.

In the women’s section, Telangana upset defending champions Chhattisgarh 79-72 in a level one contest. The Telangana women’s side have been the surprise of the tournament so far with strong performances in all their matches.

Telangana executed their strategies to perfection against Chhattisgarh, sticking to their fast-paced style of play. Despite last year’s most valuable player Poonam Chaturvedi putting up huge numbers with 46 points and 19 rebounds, Chhattisgarh’s other players had a poor shooting day.

Telangana played tight defense forcing 20 turnovers from the Chhattisgarh side, while limiting their own turnovers to just seven. For Telangana, Anusha Anto put up a double-double score with 19 points and 14 rebounds, including nine offensive rebounds. Divya P. also had a big game for Telangana with 23 points.

All the Telangana players crashed the boards to pull down 23 offensive rebounds leading to 23 second-chance points.

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