Royal College – Colombo played Gateway College (GCC)– Colombo for the inaugural Alles – Gunasekara Cup at Hendry Pediris Basketball Stadium. Royal College stepping into the game as unbeaten triple champions retained the streak winning in the maiden encounter with a narrow three points.
Rukshan Atapattu did the honours for the Reid Avenue lads in getting the party started. The Royalists focusing on the early lead, went on to dominate the game inside the first couple of minutes via fast breaks. It was Mirthesh Thyagaraja who took a shot from downtown to break the opposition and put Gateway back in the game. RC is known for their tight defense.GCC was up to task holding their defence fiercely. Both sides adapted heavy defensive strategies which included half-court presses early in the game. For Royal College to lead the first quarter by seven points, it was Atapattus`s rebounds from both offensive and defensive ends that made the difference.
The second quarter started off with Gateway scoring the first basket and this momentum continued as they played a good team game, passing the ball from player to player with a constant support being available when opting for fast break opportunities. A few fast breaks and the three pointers made by Mirthesh Thyagarajah hand Gateway College a three-point lead. However, having missed most of the jump shots near the line, Royal still replied with 12 points as the quarter ended.
Half time score – Royal College – 30 Gateway College – 26
Gateway managed to control the game in the third quarter with a few quick passes under the rim allowing them to get the first shot of the quarter. Royal College tried their luck from around the perimeter, but a majority of the shots did not connect, which led to many turnovers. Even though, the Royalists added another ten points as Gateway failed to keep a track of their fouls, it was a very slow quarter compared to the first half. Gateway only replied with eight.
The final 10 minutes of the game witnessed Gateway scoring first which was followed up by 3 more consecutive shots. It did close the gap between the two teams but the hope of catching up was short lived. GCC failed to get through the full court defensive strategies that were implemented by the Royalists. It was a thrilling 10 minutes as both teams were fighting hard to obtain the lead in the game and the margin always remained close.
After putting a stop to the opponent’s offensive strategies, Royal College managed to add 6 points. With 30 seconds remaining after the final shot by Royal, Gateway was looking for one more basket to square the scoreboard. But Royal College defense did better.
Full time score – Royal College 46 Gateway College 43
Coach of Royal College, Prasanna Jayasinghe speaking about the win, told ThePapare.com,
“It was a good game and yes we did lack a bit of preparations with exams coming up for my players. Still the key was the last few minutes where we managed to hold them off without giving a single basket. It was not about us scoring at that point, it was about breaking their momentum and running the clock and we just did that”.
Rukshan Atapattu – 22 Points
Mirthesh Thyagarajah – 10 Points
Aron Fonseka – 06 Points
Tharindu Balasooriya was awarded the best offensive player award while the Most Valuable Player Award was bagged by Rukshan Atapattu.