Defending champions Hatton National Bank (HNB) failed to retain the “A” Division Women`s title of the Mercantile Services Basketball Association Knockout Tournament as Commercial Credit (CC) clinched the win by a point.
Even though the weather gods tampered with the proceedings of the finals which made the spectators wait for one hour extra to watch the match, it was indeed worth the wait.
Both teams were on equal footing, with a host of national players donning the jerseys on either side. The match being a repeat of the last year’s final, it was expected to be nail bitter.
The teams took their time to settle into the match even though HNB drew first blood as Umanga De Zoysa converted a jumper with ease. Knowing each other`s strengths adequately, it was man-to-man defense in play for both sides, which saw them passing around the perimeter trying to spot the lapse in defense.
At the end of the maiden ten minutes, scores read, 13-08, in favor of Commercial Credit. For the girls in red, it was Imesha Thathsarani who ran riot in the HNB defense. Even though the defensive strategy from HNB was spot on, what they lacked was the energy to execute it. It was penetrated easily by Commercial Credit with basic plays of passing and cutting.
Coming into the second quarter, offensive rebounds were dominated by HNB as the two post players of Commercial Credit played in the high-post position in most of the possessions, HNB had the advantage in a clean collect. Even though HNB led the game for the first time, 21-20 with 03 minutes remaining in the first half, they leaked 08 points during those remaining minutes which put them in the back seat once again.
Half Time: Commercial Credit – 28 Hatton National Bank – 21
Commercial Credit led the game by a dozen points with 04 minutes remaining in the penultimate quarter. Commercial Credit`s long passes which spanned wide across the court, was what helped them to increase their lead.
After having a nightmare of a third quarter, HNB`s experience kicked in during the final quarter of the game but Commercial Credit`s consistent momentum outsmarted them. It was Dinali Fernando`s three pointer which came out of a steal by Anjalee Ekanayake, that gave hope to HNB as the deficit was cut down to a mere 03 points, 45-48.
While Imesha Thathsarani converted a free-throw to increase the Commercial Credit lead by 04 points, HNB skipper Asha Nanayakkara converted a full court possession with a lay-up which put them back in the game, 45-49. In the next couple of possessions HNB scored twice as Anjalee Ekanayake`s two free-throws squared the score board 49 all.
Commercial Credit`s passing wide across helped Prasadi De Croos bag a foul off the HNB defense. Out of the two crucial free-throws Prasadi converted one to give Commercial Credit a 1-point lead. HNB`s reply offense was called off due to a three-second violation which sealed the deal for the girls in red.
Imehsa Thathsarani`s minutes at the point-guard position controlling both the pace and the fate of the game not only in terms of her scoring, but passing and getting all the players to stick to game-plan paid off for the 2017 runners-up to emerge as the 2018 champions.
Full Time: Commercial Credit – 50 Hatton National Bank – 49
Player of the Final – Imesha Thathsarani (Commercial Credit)
Most Valuable Player – Solange Gunawijaya (Commercial Credit)