The final rounds of the ‘A’ division group matches of the Mercantile Basketball League were concluded last evening at the Henry Pedris Basketball court and the final semi-finalist was decided. The matches for the day were between Fairfirst and Dialog and between HNB and Sampath Bank. Read on to see who made it into the semi-finals.
The 27th Edition of the Mercantile Basketball League will commence during the third week of June.
Dialog vs FairFirst
FairFirst had already secured their spot at the semis which didn’t mean that they didn’t take the match seriously. They took first possession of the ball and after a couple of attempts from both teams, FairFirst drew first blood getting a shot from downtown. FairFirst was quick to move into a close man to man defence while Dialog opted for a zone defence. FairFirst didn’t waste too much time before taking an early lead bagging a couple of shots from beyond the perimeter. While Dialog was barely able to score during the first quarter.
The second quarter witnessed a Dialog come-back as they dominated the final 10 minutes of the half, outscoring FairFirst by 10 points during the quarter and closing the gap between the teams. This wasn’t enough though to turn the tables as they still trailed by 05 going into lemons.
Half-time: FairFirst 24 – Dialog 19
The game didn’t go in favour of Dialog for too long as FairFirst came back strong after the short break getting a couple of consecutive shots from fast breaks securing their lead once again. However, Dialog received numerous opportunities at the line to try and catch up due to the FairFirst’s high foul count. Dialog switched to the offensive before their opponents defence recovered allowing them to reduce the deficit to as little as 2 points during the last 2 minutes of the game. Both teams were trying their luck from beyond the perimeter during the final quarter and even a last minute 3 pointer by Dialog wasn’t enough to turn the tables as they ran out of time trailing by 3.
Full-time: FairFirst 52 – Dialog 49
Speaking to the captain of the winning team, he had this to say: “We played this match better than the last one we had and we hope that we can improve like this in the 2 weeks that we have before the semi-final matches.”
Photos : 27th Mercantile Basketball League
Hatton National Bank vs Sampath Bank
This was an all-important promotional match as the winner of this would qualify to play in the semi finals, putting an immense amount of pressure on the shoulders of all the players from both teams.
As the game started it was clear that both teams were quite evenly matched as they were neck to neck throughout the first quarter. On the defensive aspect of things, Sampath was using a man to man defence while HNB preferred a zone defence. Throughout the game, HNB was trying their luck from beyond the perimeter but they were only successful on a few occasions. Both teams had good defensive sides which denied entry near the post to take a shot forcing either side to resort to more jump shots. The half remained a close battle as HNB was leading into half time by just a point.
Half-time: HNB19 – Sampath Bank 18
During the final half, Sampath moved up to a half court press to try and take back control of the game although for the most part of the game the scores were neck to neck with neither team getting a real edge on the other. Towards the latter part of the half, Sampath took a slight lead but HNB had the chance to turn the tables receiving many opportunities to score through free throws but HNB failed to take maximum use of them as they trailed by 4 in the last minute. Sampath Bank switched to a full court press in the final minute to make sure that HNB won’t be able to turn the tables on them.
Full-time: HNB 41 – Sampath Bank 45
The captain of the winning team had this to say to ThePapare.com after the match: “the match was a close game it was the last quarter where we were able to create some distance between the scores but we’re glad that we are through to the semifinals now. We have 2 weeks to practice before the next match so we’re looking to take maximum use of that.”