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Geethu pivotal to Hawks’ flight

Born in Kerala, the 23-year-old Southern Railways hoopster is making waves in the Australian Big V League and is set for greater glories, reports B Shrikant.

other Updated: Mar 29, 2008 18:47 IST
B. Shrikant

THE PARTNERSHIP started on a tentative note two years back. But as the Lady Hawks, the women’s team of Ringwood Basketball Association, kick off a new season in Australia’s Big V League on Saturday, they would be banking on India’s Geethu Anna Jose to help them soar higher in the Women’s Division II league in the 2008 season.

Southern Railways’ Geethu will be in the thick of things as the Hawks look to improve on their sixth place finish in the Big V Division II league last year.

The Hawks had signed up Geethu after watching her lead India’s challenge at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006, and though the Indian hoopster has played only a few games in the two seasons thus far, she was impressive enough to become the first Division II player to be picked for the Big V League All-Star team.

The first Indian woman basketball player to play in a foreign league, Geethu was declared Player of the Month in August 2006 and gained a lot by playing in the Big V League. This time, the 23-year-old from Tiruvalla in Kerala is scheduled to play the full season and hopes to add more glitter to her 2006 success.

“This is my third year with the team and I am excited. My teammates are also keen to have me for the full season and our aim is to win the league and qualify for the first division,” she said.

The Hawks will be starting their season against Blackburn in an away-match on Saturday and will be hoping to maintain the form that helped them win the pre-season tournament.

Geethu, the 23-year-old 185 cm (6’1”) tall centre, has done well in pre-season games and Lady Hawks’ coach Tim Mottin said he was expecting Geethu to dominate in her role as the team’s main pivot.

“I expect her to dominate the League in the position she plays,” Mottin told HT in an e-mail interview. “She continues to develop her game, which is essential at this level, particularly as the tempo of the game is very high and the game is played in a very physical style.”

Though Geethu is hoping to make an impact this season, things are expected to be tough, as other teams have sorted out her game.

But Mottin said these difficulties could be overcome. “Teams are now more familiar with her characteristics, but by strengthening her current repertoire and adding new aspects to her game, we believe she will be a significant factor in our success this year,” he said.

With Geethu doing well under the basket — in one practice game she pulled down 14 rebounds and scored 12 points — and other seniors like Alison Dunkley Smith and Katie Shananan also in good form, the Lady Hawks look on top of their game.

Said Motting, “This has been the best preparation for a season in the three years since I began coaching the team. We have had a full squad, which makes practice more intense and competitive and simulates real game situations better. It has been good to have Geethu to prepare with the squad pre-season. And with all players coming into pre-season injury free, we are well prepared.”

A good performance in the Big V League would propel Geethu closer to fulfilling her dream of playing in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBA), the most high profile women’s league in the world.

Geethu has already received feelers from WNBA scouts and her performance would strengthen her case, and also put the spotlight firmly on Indian women basketball players, some of whom have elicited enquires from other foreign leagues.