Mumbai: Indian Railways ensured they didn’t exit from the tournament winless, defeating whipping boys Maharashtra 102-82 in a fast-paced exciting men’s league match of the 8th Savio Cup All-India Basketball Tournament, sponsored by Tridhatu Reality India and United Phosphorous Ltd at the Don Bosco School, Matunga on Thursday.
Railways, undergoing a rebuilding process under coach Sat Prakash Yadav, were put under pressure by the young Maharashtra side in the third quarter and even trailed 53-58 at one juncture, before their experience saw them pull clear and increase their lead in the closing stages of the match.
Railways, who were out of the reckoning for the next stage, having lost three matches, needed this win, if just to go back with some pride intact and they began in positive fashion, racing to a 26-17 lead in the first quarter, which they increased to 44-21 at half time.
Egged on by a vociferous partisan crowd, Maharashrra captain Siddhant Shined and Raj Kalbhor led the fight back, leveling scores at 53-53 before pulling ahead 58-53, but they could not maintain the momentum, their cause not helped by a porous defence. With the experienced Prakash Mishra leading the way, Railways rallied to wrest back the lead and emerge comfortable winners in the end.
Mishra was the top scorer for Railways with 22 points, whilr Sunil Kumar (20) and Gagandeep (19) made useful contributions. For Maharashtra Siddhant Shinde led the scorer’s list with 24, while Raj Kalbhor scored 21 and Saurabh Nishar 12.
In a Boys under-20 match, Nagpada Basketball Association (NBA) beat Mastan YMCA 68-54. Fardeen Khan (14) and Arafat Memon (13) top scored for the winners, while Salman Shaikh (16) and Mohsin Sheikh (14) were on target for the losers.
In late night matches on Wednesday, Sportspower USA completed their third consecutive victory with a 82-71 margin over Tamil Nadu, assuring their advance into the next phase. Also maintaining their impressive run were defending champions ONGC, who drubbed Indian Railways, 98-66, handing the former National champions their third loss in the tournament. Sportspower and ONGC look the most competent sides and should meet in the title clash.
For Sportspower, former Utah Jazz player Paul Grant was the top scorer with 23 points, while Terrance Thomas scored 21 points. For Tamil Nadu, Rikin Pethani was the top scorer with 20 and C. V. Dinesh contributed 14 points.
For ONGC it was once again the duo of Vishesh Brighuvanshi and Yadwinder Singh who delivered the goods, scoring 21 and 15 points respectively.
Indian Railways 102 (Prakash Mishra 22, Sunil Kumar 20, Gagandeep 17) bt Maharashtra 82 (Siddhant Shinde 24, Raj Kalbhor 21, Saurabh Nishar 12) H.T 44-41. Quarterwise scores 26-17, 44-21, 70-66, ONGC 98 (Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 21, Yadwinder Singh 15) bt Indian Railways 66 (Prakash Mishra 13, Jaskaran Singh 13, Gagandeep 12). H T: 47-32. Quarterwise Score: 24-17, 23-15, 33-21, 18-13. Sportspower USA 82 (Paul Grant 23, Terrance Thomas 21) bt Tamil Nadu 71 (Rikin Rethan 20, C. V. Dinesh 14) H T: 43-45. Quarter wise Score: 20-23, 23-22, 23-14, 16-12.