“It’s not how fancy you can be in the game, it`s the buckets you score” – Sudesh Paiva


This week on Swishing The Nets – Basketball in 05 minutes, Sudesh Paiva; National Basketball Players reflects his journey in the sport.

Sudesh Paiva, first laying his hands on a bat and ball to play cricket, diverted his attention to Basketball and is now a national basketball player. A product of St. Peter`s College, Colombo – 04, this week on Swishing the Nets he tells us his story.  

Below are the excerpts.

Q: How did you get into the sport?

When I was about 15 years old, I started playing cricket for St. Peter`s College. The introduction of me to basketball happened in an interesting way. My class-mates started playing basketball during the school interval. I joined them and eventually over a period I got hooked. One day, my friend Arun Gooneratne asked me whether I would like to play the sport for the school. I said yes since I liked it and I went for training. Eventually I dropped cricket and took on basketball.

Q: How was the support from your family?

Support from my family is amazing. Even when I have an injury their only question is when am I getting back on the field. My dad is my biggest fan. So wherever I am, even if it is a practice game he will be there.

Q: How is your practice schedule?

We have training on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Apart from the training sessions, on Mondays and Wednesdays I go to the gym. In the peak season, we have training on all five days, both morning and evening sessions as well.

Q: Let`s talk about the balance between work and sports. Being a national player, how do you do it?

Its honestly a bit tough with work. I work for long hours and come back for training. I have got used to the routine. At first, I forced myself as to what to do and now I am used to it. If I don’t go for training I feel very inactive now.

Q: Before a match and during a match what are the steps you follow to handle pressure and keep your focus in the game?

Before a match, two hours before I am completely off from everything. I am completely focused on the game. During a match, I have trained my mind and I only see the ten players and referee around me. That is all that I can hear and see. So, the crowd is irrelevant to me.

Q: Who are the toughest teams and players you have competed against?

Toughest teams of course HSC Blues and Blacks.

Players, in terms of forwards Timothi Nithushan, Praneeth Udumalagala and Anoushka Wettasinghe who is a very aggressive player on the court. In terms of centers we have had history as well, Mithila Abeynayake and Isuru Perera.

Q: You play across both the formats, 3×3 and 5on5. How do you adapt to different formats at different times?

It`s very difficult because even the size of the ball is different. The pace and the intensity of the game is very different too. When it comes to transition you take at least two to three weeks to settle down.

Q: You represent Sri Lanka internationally. How does that feel?

I don`t think you can describe that feeling in words. My first tournament for Sri Lanka was the SABA tournament. After that I have been on the national team for the last four to five years. It has taught me a lot, molding me into a better player. I have learnt how strategize and be tactful in a game. It has converted me into a smart player on the court.

Q: Where does Sri Lanka basketball stand as you see it, what should improve?

Sri Lanka basketball over the years has had a growth. Players have been exposed internationally more and specially the 3×3 format players have been exposed to different tournaments. The fast track program has helped the players a lot.  The improvement I see should be, we need to have a couple of practice games before the tournament. I believe it will help us to achieve more when we go international.

Q: Who is your role model in the game, both locally and internationally?

If you ask about my favorite player it’s Amar`e Stoudemire. That is who I aspire to be and I have been following him for quite a while. I also adore Michael Jordan. How he could go on to play baseball and come-back win a championship together with a MVP award.

Q: Apart from basketball what other interests do you have?

Well I have my job and then apart from that I am into academics, since I have all three to balance off I really don`t have much time to pursue other interests.

Q: If not for basketball, what other sport?

If not for basketball I would like to play cricket yes, I mean I started off with it so yes of course. 

Q: Any message to a youngster who is starting the game?

Well at first, take baby steps and concentrate at only one step at a time.  Always remember that It’s not how fancy you can be on the game, it’s the buckets you score, the defense you do and how best you could do individually for a team to win.

Q: What are your future-plans in basketball?

I have been in the basketball arena for the past four to five years. I am looking at pursuing basketball for the next five years as well. Also, I would like to coach a junior team so that I can give back something that I have learnt. Individually I want to be an allrounder with my education, profession and my sports.

Q: Anyone to thank for?

Mr. Chaminda Sembakuttiarachchi. He was my initial coach. So, he was the one who nurtured me from the beginning saying this what basketball is. I remember he gave me a skipping rope and he made me do 600 jumps to 1000 skips a day. Then to Mr. Ajith Kuruppu. Arun Gooneratene for introducing me to the sport. My parents and my family. Finally, to all the team players that I have played with and to everyone out there who has supported me.