Defending champions Uttarakhand (men) and Kerala (women) head the field for the 68th Senior National Basketball Championship, which begins at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here on January 17. The tournament, hosted by the Tamil Nadu Basketball Association under the aegis of Basketball Federation of India, will see teams from almost all states/union territories participate, TNBA president V V R Raj Satyen told reporters here. He said the Tamil Nadu teams had prepared well for the championship and expected them to perform well. The teams have been training under Serbian Milan Opacic, head coach and Aleksandar Virjevic, the assistant coach. Speaking on the occasion, Opacic said the men and women teams had put in a lot of hard work in the run-up to the tournament, adding that should stand them in good stead. "We have had good training sessions and the players are ready for the tournament," he added. TNBA general secretary Aadhav Arjuna said the association planned to take the game to the grass-roots and open academies. He also said TNBA would be instituting the Tamil Nadu Basketball Hall of Fame.
The first inductees will be T Vijayaraghavan and Amarnath, former international players and 'Jumpball' Padmanabhan and L Ramakrishnan in the contributors category. The Tamil Nadu men's and women's teams were announced on the occasion. Members of the state men's teams said they had been working hard under Opacic and expected to better the runner-up finish they achieved in last year's edition in Puducherry. The Tamil Nadu teams: Men: Akilan (captain), Justin, Hariram, Prasanna Venkatesh, Bala, Mukund Chari, Muin Bek, Harissh, Sivabalan, Ragul, Aravind, Jeeva, Koushick, Rikin, Pratham Singh, Ragu Ram. Women: Alagu Tamil Mozhi, Srividya V, Pushpa, Sathya, Nishanthi, Mohana Bala, Shinu, Avanthi, Vandhana, Gayathri, Sheryanka, Deepika.