Sri Lanka Basketball will celebrate 100 years of basketball this year by making its first ever World Championship appearance in any format of the game.
Despite Sri Lanka not being a heavyweight in the regular version of the game, the 3×3 format has grown immensely in the local basketball fraternity and the Federation’s push towards developing the shorter format of the game has gained us the chance to participate in the World Championship in France.
Is Sri Lanka ready for this giant step in their centennial year? ThePapare.com sat down with the Director, 3×3 Development of Sri Lanka Basketball Federation, Christie Mariathasan to find out about Sri Lanka’s plans.
Q: Tell us about the journey up to now, how did Sri Lanka qualify for the 3×3 World Championships?
I think you would have witnessed, we had a 3×3 tournament organized for the SABA (South Asian Basketball Association) region. We had it at Gateway International College last year and it was the first time that we beat India.
From there onwards there were lots of invitations for us to participate in 3×3 programs. So the national team went to Qatar and then we had the U18 Asian Championships last year. Asian International School and Good Shepherd Convent represented Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup.
So with the amount of 3×3 activities we had last year we have been given the chance to play in the U18 3×3 Asia Cup once again for both girls/boys and we have also qualified for the Asian Cup in the open category in both the men’s and women’s categories which will be happening in November.
On top of it all we have been granted participation in the world championship in the men`s open category that will be held in France.
Q: Have we finalized a squad? When will the selections happen?
U18 will start in February. Already the letters have been sent to schools. We have two legs scheduled for the selections. So the teams that qualify from the first leg will play in the second leg. The selected boys will play in the U18 Asia Cup in May together with the girls.
The 51st Senior National Tournament will be happening during the second week of February and as soon as that is over, in April we will have the first leg and the second leg to select the men and the women for the Asia Cup in November and the World Championships.
Q: What will the practice schedule be like?
As soon as we select the best team to tour, the practices will commence at the Royal College Indoor Basketball Complex and Gateway College Rajagirya so that will continue until the end of May when they leave the country. That is the training schedule that has been communicated to the schools.
Q: Are there any special measures taken by the Federation to uplift the standards of the players who are participating?
We will be having them in a training camp. There is a new program called the Fast Track 3×3 which is done by FIBA Asia. They are targeting the U18s for the 2020 Olympics. So as soon as the tournament is over, 32 players will be selected. There will be two national training camps and then they will be taken for two international training camps. That will be a program which we will have for the next four years.
Q: The 3×3 format has grown in quality, what will the Federation do to sustain the development?
We need to expand this towards districts. Batticaloa, we are already done. So we are moving to other districts like Jaffna, Polonnaruwa, Mulativ.
At present Sri Lanka is ranked 34. So we need to come up because when you look at other formats like the national side, the men are still at SABA level and women are at FIBA Asia. So the only thing we can get to the World Cup is in the 3×3.
So the Federation is keen on the 3×3 because it is where we have a bigger chance to compete with other countries.
Q: There must be many people who have contributed to your progress so far, let`s talk about them?
First of all, I need to thank our stake holders, that is FIBA Asia who sponsored us and invited us for tournaments, then comes the NOC (National Olympic Committee), the Sri Lanka Basketball Federation also the Sports Ministry. Also I say a big thank you to ThePapare.com for all the goodwill and the support towards the basketball.
ThePapare.com will be on the look out to see how Sri Lanka Basketball Federation will execute their plans and take basketball to greater heights in Sri Lanka.