By: Arindam Das Ghosh
Rikin Pethani wasn’t a hard choice to be named player of the tournament at the 64th National Basketball Championships. Not only was Pethani his sides second highest scorer he also played a crucial role defensively throughout the tournament. In Wednesday’s final, he top scored with 22 points to help Tamil Nadu beat Punjab 74-57. But while the 6’8” center has proved an invaluable resource for Tamil Nadu side, Pethani’s original state — Gujarat — would be ruing their loss.
Pethani grew up in the small town of Himatnagar in Gujarat where he had little ambition of playing basketball as a youngster, preferring to play cricket instead. It was on a coach’s — KA Thakur — suggestion that he decided to switch sports as a class 8 student. “My coach told me that if played basketball, I will have more chances to grow,” says Pethani. Thakur’s suggestion proved right and within a short time Pethani had broken into the Gujarat state team and then made his way to the Indian junior set up as well.
But after playing three nationals for Gujarat without his side ever making the knockout rounds, Pethani got a scholarship for his studies in Tamil Nadu and quickly shifted base. “For me basketball doesn’t need any language or state or anything else for me. I studied in Tamil Nadu, completed my engineering and am now working with IOB (Indian Overseas Bank) in Tamil Nadu. I have my duties towards the state.” says Pethani who was representing Tamil Nadu for the third time at the National Championship.
The gold at the National Championship’s aren’t the only thing Pethani has won recently. He was a member of the Indian gold medal winning team at the Lusophonia Games in January this year. The 23-year-old , who made his senior national debut at the 2012 Asian Championships, is now setting his targets even higher and is preparing for the Incheon Asian Games at the end of the year.
Chhattisgarh stun Railways
Chhattisgarh produced a scintillating comeback in the final quarter to clinch the women’s title at the 64th National Basketball Championship Chhattisgarh women, who were trailing in each of the first three quarters, went past defending champions Indian Railways 81-77 in the final minutes of the game at the Thyagaraj Indoor Stadium.
Kavita came up with a match-winning performance scoring 25 points for Chhatisgarh. Railways team looking for their seventh consecutive title was quick to get off the blocks and led the first quarter 23-12. While the lead narrowed, Railways still had the advantage at the end half-time with the score reading 46-38.
However, Chhatisgarh women never allowed the lead to surge beyond their control. At the end of third quarter, Chattisgarh pulled the lead down to five points (65-60) before surging in the final quarter. Chhatisgarh netted 21 points as compared to Railways’ 13 in the last quarter to end the latter’s streak. Services finished third in the men’s category after beating defending champions Uttarkhand 82-54 while Delhi women beat Maharashtra 79-66 to secure third position.
—(Arindam is a student of EXIMS)