Sri Lanka (SL) played their final encounter in the U16 SABA Basketball Championship against the defending champions India (IND), today (5th July 2019), in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The South Asian giants retained the title submerging the islanders, 72-41, at full time.
Sri Lanka`s record against India isn`t the best. India has always dominated their neighboring island, holding the better of the match-up record. Both teams stepped into the game unbeaten, fighting for that single qualifying spot for the Asian championship.
SL did not get onto decent start as they had done in the previous games. It was the Indians who drew first blood and employed a full-court defensive strategy for most of the maiden quarter. The ploy did take a massive toll on the offensive aspect of the islanders as they only managed 10 points for the first ten minutes. IND replied with 26.
It was lackluster offensive play from SL in comparison to the previous games. With the pressure mounting on the players, they just could not execute the basics; there were many back-court and travelling violations which turned possession over.
Match Replay (Video Credits: NE Sports)
It was the same in the second quarter, as India scored most of their points through fast-breaks and steals which put SL in the back-seat. It was easy pickings for IND in defense to cover the lanes of the SL lads as they were slow in the transition from the back to the front of the court.
Sri Lanka, fielding 13 six footers in the 15-man squad for this tournament, were below par in rebounds in this match. This cut off SL`s second chances at the hoop which could have bought them closer to the Indians. India scored 16 points in the second quarter while the Lankans only managed 08 points.
Half Time: Sri Lanka – 18 India – 42
After the ten-minute break, SL picked up the slack and played better minutes of basketball, with a better conversion rate of the attempted shots. Even though the points came through, the defense was leaking points and the turn-overs continued.
SL was tested in their perimeter shooting which did not come-through in the match. Sri Lanka attempted many shots outside the arc which fell short. As the pressure rose, shot selection from the lads did not work to their advantage.
It was not the best day in office for the officials either, with India dominating. India went on to add another 19 points to the penultimate quarter in reply to the opposition’s 12. Both teams scored 11 points apiece in the final quarter.
Sri Lanka only had the luxury of practicing for two weeks prior to the tournament, whilst India was preparing for a month. The quick and the crucial decisions a player makes on the play gets better with practice.
SL is a formidable side, full of rich talent and an equal match-up to the Indians. The boys lacked match preparation. From shot selection to shifting the pace of the game and passing, the finer points are molded in practice sessions. The lads, lacked the little things.
India winning the match, recorded their fourth consecutive win in the South Asian circuit placing themselves in the Asian stage.
Full Time: Sri Lanka – 41 India – 72