Sri Lanka ranked 61st in FIBA World Ranking, finished the FIBA U16 Women`s Championship in 5th spot over the course of the last week. Despite finishing at the bottom in the table there were many many positives to be taken from SL’s campaign.
5 Games, 2 Wins
SL`s draw had 03 group-stage games, one quarter-final and the classification game for (5-8). The team did not get the best start to the tournament as India registered an easy win against an unsettled Lankan side as the full-time scores read, 58-86. SL were never in the game as the half-time (HT) scores read, 19-50.
It was the second game that settled SL as they beat Nepal, 68-48. SL led the game during HT, 40-17. The final group stage game was a tight one. SL trailed Iran by a couple of points during HT, 33-35 and eventually lost the match, 84-76.
Coming into the quarter-final against Kazakhstan, SL`s performance in the first half was brilliant. The Lankan lasses led the match by a point at HT, 36-35. The opposition`s robust performance in the second half took the game away as the full-time scores stood at, 58-71.
The final match of the tournament saw the islanders earning a win beating Nepal once again at full time, 74-38. HT scores read 28-23 in favor of SL.
Scoring Percentages (Overall Tournament)
2 Pointers: 35.3 %
3 Pointers: 26 %
Free-throws: 60.2 %
SL in total scored 334 points in the tournament. SL attempted 232 two pointers and only converted 82. SL shot 127 three pointers and managed to bring 33 to full value. The numbers would have been enough, if only SL managed to contain the opposition attack in defense.
Even though the numbers tell a disappointing story in the top two sectors, SL`s free-throw (FT) percentage remained high. Among the participating countries, SL topped the cards for FTs. The Islanders attempted 118 shots from the charity strike and successfully converted 71 at a success rate of 60.2%.
Thisari Kapuge top scored for SL with 83 points. She converted 15 of her 51 attempted two pointers. Thisari`s 3 point stats read, 7 successful shots out of 25 attempts.
Thisari did well from the line, converting 32 FTs out of the 55 tried. As a percentage she made 58.2% of her shots. Thisari Kapuge is definitely one of the positives Sri Lanka can take away from the tournament. If Sri Lanka give her the adequate practice and train her well, she could go on to do wonders at the senior level.
The second positive, Leia Hamza topped the 3-point card for SL. Leia converted 10 three-pointers out of the 27 attempted. Hamza was also part of the Sri Lanka 3×3 squad which took part in both the U18 Asia Cup and World Cup. She has already received ample international exposure at this budding age, so the administrators should make sure that the right amount of backing is given to her.
Rebounds & Steals (Overall Tournament)
Total Rebounds: 221
Offensive Rebounds: 75
Defensive Rebounds: 146
Steals conceded: 46
The number on the offensive aspect is not satisfying but the girls did well in defense. Malmi Hettiarachchi topped the cards for SL in rebounding with a total of 64 rebounds. She had 21 offensive rebounds and 43 defensive rebounds. Malmi`s per game rebounding average stands at 12.8%.
For SL it was Hazeena Abdul who got the most amount of steals at 18, having played 32.5 mins in the entire tournament across 05 games. Hazeena was also a part of the 3×3 squad which toured for the U18 Asia Cup.
Positives in a Nutshell
SL won a couple of games. Even though it was against the same country, the wins are important. SL did lose to Kazakhstan but it was close game where the local girls did lead at half time. The match versus Iran was a match that went right down to the wire as well.
Thisari Kapuge was ranked 3rd overall in total points, Malmi Hettiarachchi was ranked 3rd in overall free-throws and rebounds while Hazeena Abdul was ranked 3rd in overall steals.
The girls scored, rebounded and assisted. The important point to note is that all the players are still in the U16 age category. Putting up this performance in the international arena speaks volumes about their potential. These players will be the next generation who will represent Sri Lanka in a few years’ time.
The question still is, what did we lack? We lacked the finer points in the game and fitness. Both come through practice, practice makes perfect. It all winds down to one thing, the lack of a national pool and a youth national pool. It is high time that SL puts a halt to selecting players from tournament to tournament.
So, Sri Lanka basketball, you have the talent, potential and most importantly the time to develop these young players to adept contenders in the international arena. Administrators, over to you.
Video credit to : FIBA.basketball