On Sunday 19th of February 2017 there was a triple header of the 51st Senior Nationals group stages at the Police Park despite rainy conditions. The first game was a Men’s encounter between SL Schools BA  and SL Navy which was followed by a Women’s and Men’s division clashes between Colombo BA and Mercantile BA.

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SL Schools BA  (Men) vs. SL Navy : The seamen dominate

There was heavy rain in Colombo and for a moment it seemed like the match was going to get postponed but then the officials and players decided to go ahead with it as the rain ceased. The conditions had the most adverse impact on the Schools team as they couldn’t carry on their fast-pace game style as the ball was slippery and so was the court. It was also apparent that their Coach Randima was being cautious of injuries as he continued to sub-out key players.

Photo Album: 51st Senior Nationals 2017 | Level I | Day Five

SL Navy took advantage of this situation and took all 4 quarters 17-12, 15-11, 16-11 and 19-10 to win the game by a convincing 67-44. The conditions were obviously similar to both teams but SL Navy used their experience to capitalize on it. They slowed the game down drastically, crashed the offensive boards and made outside jump-shots and smartly took lay-ups off the rim instead of the board (because the board too gets slippery due to the rain). Lahiru Perera, Nipun Lahiruwan and Buddhi Yasas all contributed to SL Navy score from the Perimeter where as Asanka did a lot of damage in the paint. For SL Schools Arnold Brent top scored with 11 points and Nimesh Fernando had 9 points.

Final scores : SL Schools BA 67 vs SL Navy (Women) 44

Top scorer : U.Rajakaruna- 17 Points (SL Navy)

Lahiru Perera (Shooting Guard, SL Navy) – Winning team

“We are really pleased to get the win. It was a complete team performance. Although we are out of the tournament now, our young team has had great exposure playing at the national level. We will be back stronger”.

Nipun Ekanayake (Point Guard, Sri Lanka Schools BA) – Losing team

“The rain and slippery conditions affected our gameplay today. Our coach has a responsibility for the health and safety of the players as we are all from different schools and have to prepare for the school tournaments. We have one last game against Gampaha BA tomorrow, we will be giving it a 100% to win it and take valuable experience from this tournament going forward in our Basketball career”.

Game 2 (Women)

Colombo BA  (Women) vs. Mercantile BA (Women) : A depleted Colombo BA (Women) fall short

Colombo BA who were already short-handed with only 7 players available to play in their squad were going into this game with 2 more injuries including a shoulder injury to their star player B.Thalagala. Mercantile BA took the 1st quarter 10-6. Colombo BA showed some life in the 2nd quarter led by their highest-points getter of the tournament (For Colombo BA) – Imesha Thathsarani, but Mercantile were always a step ahead taking that period too by a 4 point margin (23-15).

The 3rd quarter was one way traffic with Mercantile BA running through Colombo BA outscoring them by 10 points in the period (37-19).  Colombo BA made a few shots in the 4th quarter and took that period but was not even close to erasing the huge deficit they had accumulated across the 1st 3 quarters. The final scores read 47-30 in favour of Mercantile BA.

Sivashakthi Selvaraja, the coach of Colombo BA pointed out to the injuries that have derailed his team affecting the results. He also stated that Mercantile BA was a very experienced team and they are not too disappointed regarding this loss. He added that Colombo BA was looking forward to playing Mercantile BA in the finals.

Final scores : Colombo BA 30 vs Mercantile BA 47

Top scorer : – Anjalee Ekanayake 16 Points (Mercantile BA)

Niroshini Paiva (Captain, Mercantile BA) – Winning team

“We are happy about the win today. We have the semi-finals up next, and we are confident of winning it. That will be followed by the finals where we plan to go for it and grab the championship.”

Imesha Thathsarani (Point Guard, Colombo BA) – Losing team

“Our main players of the tournament Benita Thalagala and Erandi Rajapakse have suffered from injuries. We had to play this game with U-17 players in our club and myself. We are not really upset about the loss. Our main target is to enter the finals. To do so we will have to win the semi-finals against SL Air Force to whom we lost at the group stages”.

Game 3

Mercantile BA (Men) vs Colombo BA (Men)

Mercantile BA started out strong taking the 1st quarter 16-9.  Colombo BA made a come-back in the 2nd quarter claiming the period 11-12. Mercantile BA was ahead 27-21 at the end of the 1st half. The 3rd quarter continued to be neck and neck with both teams trading baskets at regular intervals but Mercantile BA’s 1st quarter performance helped them stay ahead (44-37). Although Colombo BA made a few runs in the 4th quarter to come within a 5-point range, Mercantile BA managed to make enough defensive stops and then successfully counter-attack to ensure they took the ‘W’ despite Colombo BA slightly out-scoring Mercantile BA in the final passage of play.

Mercantile BA big men Rajitha Hettiarachchi and Gayan De Croos made a big impact in the paint through their rebounds, rim protection and points in the paint scoring 15 and 8 points respectively. Clinton Stallone and Thimothi Nithushan controlled the game masterfully from the perimeter with 12 and 8 points respectively. Tushan Dharmasena’s 2-handed slam for Mercantile BA was the highlight of the game. For Colombo BA, Lakshan Samarasinghe made the most contribution on offense with 15 points including a few 3-pointers followed by Sudesh Ahamed with 10 points and many defensive rebounds.

This game was a decider for the Group champions spot and the victors of this encounter will be facing the 2nd seed from the Group B.

Final scores : Colombo BA 52 vs Mercantile BA 58

Top scorer : – Lakshan Samarasinghe 15 Points (Colombo BA) and Rajitha Hettiarachchi 15 Points (Mercantile BA)

Tushan Dharmasena (Power Forward, Mercantile BA) – Winning team

“This is our 4th win in a row, the boys are very confident and we are getting stronger as a team day by day. We are hoping to become Champions this time as well – ‘It’s all about the dab’! “.

Jagath Kulathunga (Coach, Colombo BA) – Losing team

“Mercantile BA is a very experienced team. Our boys played well today but made a few mistakes here and there especially towards the end which cost us the game. We are preparing for our semi-finals game next and are hoping to meet Mercantile BA in the finals where we will give them a tough competition.

Injury report : B.Thalagala            (Injured shoulder – Return for the semi-finals is questionable)

                          Erandi Rajapakse (Injured Knee – Return for the semi-finals is questionable)