On Friday the 17th of February 2017 we had yet another Triple header of the 51st Senior Nationals group stages at the Police Park basketball court. The first game was a Men’s encounter between Mercantile BA (Men) and SL Navy, which was followed by a Women’s division clash between SL Army (Women) and Mercantile BA (Women) and finally a game between Hambantota BA and SL Police.

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Game 1

Mercantile BA (Men) vs SL Navy: Mercantile stamp their authority and take 3rd straight game

Mercantile BA started the game quite strong, taking the 1st quarter 21-16. They continued that momentum in the 2nd quarter as well, outscoring SL Navy by 9 points in the period and extending the lead (40-26). An outmatched yet determined SL Navy team mounted a comeback taking the 3rd quarter by 4 points but were still behind (53-43). Lahiru Perera and Asanka Mahesh kept crashing on offensive rebounds for SL Navy and the team put on a full court press on defense disrupting Mercantile BA’s half-court set game. With less than 4 minutes to go SL Navy came within a 5-point range but missed mid-range jump-shots which proved costly.

Photos: 51st Senior Nationals 2017 | Level I | Day Three

In the last 3 minutes Mercantile BA broke loose putting on a 10-2 run scoring on fast breaks via turn-overs to win the game by 13 to finally make a statement in this tournament! Mercantile BA had the least amount of turn-overs in this game out of their 3 outings and were locked up on defense. Tushan Dharmasena made a dunk in the game for an exclamation point! Overall it was a good outing for Mercantile BA with ball movement and player chemistry finally on point.

Final scores: Mercantile BA (77) vs SL Police (64)

Sameera Fernando, Assistant Coach Mercantile BA:

“Our team played a very good brand of basketball. Co-ordination was on point it was good to see the team chemistry on a high”

Top scorer: Lahiru Perera – 24 Points (SL Police)

Game 2 (Women)

Mercantile BA (Women) vs SL Army (Women): Mercantile BA overpower SL Army

Mercantile BA drew first blood and kept scoring at regular intervals. SL Army (Women) couldn’t buy a basket for the 1st 5:30 minutes of the game until Melissa Dunuwille finally made a 3-Pointer for them. Mercantile BA ran away with the 1st period 18-5. The nightmarish night continued for SL Army in the 2nd quarter as the young team struggled to score consistently and couldn’t make much defensive stops either to compensate (35-12). The 3rd quarter was no different with Mercantile BA winning that period by 8 points (49-20). SL Army’s go-to player Keyasha Sriwardana came to life in the 4th quarter scoring all 6 of her game points in that period and even though they took that quarter 5-13 the deficit was just too much to erase. Keyasha is easily their best scoring weapon but was more engaged setting up plays rather than making shots herself, she will have to shoot more if SL Army is to stand a chance to register a win in this tournament. J. Thushanandini was the lone scoring threat for them scoring an impressive 15 points.

Mercantile BA as usual had contribution from everyone and played good defense and played an up-tempo game catching Army off guard. Prasadi Fonseka and Tharjini Sivalingam scored 10 points apiece and their star center Kumarinie De Silva scored 16.

Final scores: Mercantile BA (54) vs SL Army (31)

Rasitha Fernando (Assistant Coach, Colombo BA (Women) )

“We are already preparing for our next game. We see our team is improving game by game. We made a few mistakes on the defensive end which we will fix going into our next match. We are confident we can do great things going deep into this tournament”

Top scorer : Kumarinie De Silva – 16 Points

Game 3

Hambantota BA vs SL Police (Men): Hambantota trump SL Police in a heated encounter

Following a tough-loss against SL Army in their last outing, Hambantota BA were looking to make a statement in this match, and they made their intensions clear from the get-go taking the 1st quarter 15-10. But SL Police, playing at home, mounted a strong come-back in the 2nd quarter. Cheered on by their home fans they took the 2nd quarter by 2 points (30-27). The lead often changed hands in the 2nd passage of play.

Hambantota BA had to make a few adjustments in the 3rd to break their opponent’s rhythm and that’s exactly what they did. They slowed the game down drastically to break SL Police’s rhythm (SL Police likes to play up-tempo) and started working more off their post players. Having a slight size advantage in the interior Mithila Abeysekara and Isuru Perera put on an impressive big-man gaming display and scored consistently down low (44-39). Going into the 4th quarter fatigue set in and the biggest weakness of SL Police, which was a lack of depth in their bench, was exposed and Hambantota BA’s merciless onslaught in the paint and the dribble penetration game of their guards and forwards led by Roshan Randima and Andrew Alphonsus proved to be too much for SL Police to counter. There were a few scuffles throughout the game although thankfully none of them went too far! The bulk of the weight for SL Police as usual was carried on by Sujith and Krishan Chamara.

When asked about only using 7 of their players coach Prasanna Jayasinghe (Hambantota BA) responded that they wanted to give more playing time for their key pieces to help them settle in as  a team and build chemistry and he was looking to fit in the rest of their players in the up-coming games. He was also happy to see his team play good basketball after 6 quarters of placid game play (1st match and 1st half of this match)

Final scores: Hambantota BA (66) vs SL Police (48)

Hiran Wijesuriya (Captain, Hambantota BA)

“We had a good game today. We had an unfortunate loss against SL Army in our 1st match but that was mainly because of our main player Roshan Randima coming for the match only in the 3rd quarter (Due to his SL Army Women’s coaching duties). But we are back on track now. We have 2 more must-win games in the group and we are going all in for it now”.

Top scorer: Mithila Abeysekara – 18 Points (Hambantota BA)