The home team’s performance at the Manohar Parrikar Indoor Stadium in Navelim on Monday would have delighted the small number of spectators who arrived early to watch Goa’s basketball debut. In the first five minutes, Goa led 9–6, and at the end of the first quarter, the score was 20–17. However, in sports, it matters more how you end than how you start, as Delhi’s 81-61 victory in the 37th National Games opening game demonstrated.
“We faced a strong team, and it’s encouraging to be tied with Delhi, who have such excellent players,” Goa coach and former international Hanif Patel, a Maharashtra native, said. “They were generally tall, so it was challenging with the rebound”.
Mahipal Bhati scored the most for Goa, as was to be expected. With 20 points, the foreign player—who recently relocated to Goa with the Navy—kept the hosts in the game till the final quarter. With eight rebounds, Vivek Goti, another international, was more productive at the back, but he still had a significant impact. Jeshua Pinto impressed both the bench and the spectators with a handful of three-pointers at a pivotal moment.
According to It was always going to be difficult against Delhi, a formidable team with four international players, especially with India captain Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and Joginder Singh playing at their best. Vishesh, the youngest captain and one of India’s best players, participated in every minute of play and scored eighteen points. Joginder, who finished the day with 24 points and eight three-pointers, was the player of the day, nevertheless.
Arjun Singh and Ravi Bharadwaj are Delhi’s other two international players. Gaurav Chandel’s forced exit from the court due to five fouls also hurt Goa.
“Our next game is against Telangana, which I am certain will be a good contest. We have not lost heart (from the opening defeat),” said the coach. In the women’s section, Uttar Pradesh were unstoppable as they cruised past Goa 60-34. Shimei Nathan (15 pts), Keona Fernandes (11), and Sarah Hussain (6) were among the points but proved no match for Lipramayee Satapathy who single-handedly scored 24 points for Uttar Pradesh.