New Delhi, March 4: Defending champions Uttarakhand were knocked out of the 64th National Basketball Championships here Tuesday, losing their semifinal encounter to Punjab, who will now face Tamil Nadu in the final.
Punjab, who besides Tamil Nadu are the only other unbeaten team in the tournament, beat Uttarakhand 80-68 owing to 27 points each from Palpreet Singh and Ranbir Singh. While imposing centre Palpreet dominated from the inside, Ranbir notched an amazing five three-pointers.
Uttarakhand, it seemed, had the match under control leading 45-38 at the end of the second quarter but that changed quickly. In the span of two minutes, the defending champions saw their most prized possession Amritpal Singh being ejected after five fouls and Punjab being given seven free-throws for back-to-back technical fouls.
This suddenly changed the momentum of the game as Punjab ended the third quarter just four points behind. It was one-way traffic in the final quarter as Punjab scored 26 points to Uttarakhand’s nine.
In the other semifinal, Pratham Singh and S. Venkatesh were once again amongst the points as Tamil Nadu edged Services 92-85 to move into the final.
India international Pratham put in another clinical performance bagging 28 points and was ably assisted by Venkatesh, who finished with 22 points. Joginder Singh and Jairam scored 18 points apiece while Gopal Ram chipped in with 15.
Tamil Nadu took a 21-19 lead at the end of the first quarter and completely dominated the second, scoring 34 points to their opponents’ 17.
Complacency, however, seemed to set in the Tamil Nadu camp as Services shaded the third quarter 19-16. With the score 71-55 in favour of Tamil Nadu at the end of the third quarter, Services still trailed by 16 points.
In a thrilling finish, Services, who upset Railways in the quarters, outscored Tamil Nadu 30-21 in the last quarter almost pulling off another surprise win.
In the women’s category, Chhattisgarh avenged their group stage loss to Maharashtra, defeating them 76-65 in the semifinal. Kavita scored 20 points (11 rebounds), Deepa 16 and Seema Singh 14 (13 rebounds) for Chhattisgarh. For Maharashtra Shireen Limaye scored 20 points, Krittika Divadkar 15 and Kenny Susan Lalu added 10.
Defending champions Railways routed Delhi 100-65 to march in to the final. Top player Geetu Anna Jose scored a match-high 27 points and was well supported by M. Pushpa, who finished with 19 points. Prashanti Singh bagged 17 points for Delhi while captain Manauti Passi chipped in with 12.
Tamil Nadu (Pratham Singh 28, S.P. Venkatesh 22, Rikin Pethani 14, P. Akilan 12) bt Services (Joginder Singh 18, Jairam 18, Gopal Ram 15, Antony V. Nixon 11) 92-85.
Punjab (Palpreet Singh 27, Ranbir Singh 27, Gurwinder Singh 9) bt Uttarakhand (Yadwinder Singh 24, Amritpal Singh 15, Riyaz Uddin 14) 80-68.
Chhattishgarh (Kavita 20, Deepa L. 16, Seema Singh 14, Poonam Chaturvedi 10, Bharati Netam 10) bt Maharashtra (Shireen Limaye 20, Krittika Divadkar 15, Kenny Susan Lalu 10) 75-65.
Railways (Geetu Anna Jose 27, M. Pushpa 19) bt Delhi (Prashanti Singh 17, Manauti Passi 12) 100-65.