2018 was a year of diverse fortunes. It teared us up at times but brought joy at other times. It taught us lessons for another decade. Joy was when the Sri Lankan National Team placed themselves closer to the Asian Championships, sorrow when we almost thought we`d beat the USA!
2018, South Asian Basketball Champions
In 2015, Sri Lanka was crowned silver medalists and in 2016 Islanders did not participate. In 2017 they finished the tournament at the bottom having lost to the Maldives for first time in the history of the sport. 2018, dawned a new era, Sri Lanka were unbeaten champions of the region.
The tournament acts as the pre-qualifiers for the FIBA Asia Cup 2021. Sri Lanka won the regionals, advanced on to the second set of qualifiers which was played in Bahrain in early September.
The competition was tough, with top Asian contenders but Sri Lanka once more managed to beat Bangladesh. That single win, helped the Lankans to go on to the final hurdle of selections which will be played later in 2019.
5on5 basketball in Sri Lanka was long awaited with joy and hope. It`s after a decade that Sri Lanka has got back on its feet and are marching towards an Asian competition. Lot of positives to talk about more than that, a lot of learnings to better ourselves for the next round. Let`s gets to it soon.
3×3 Basketball, Sri Lanka`s new signage
For a nation that is at the development stage in basketball, Sri Lanka is doing exceptionally well in the 3×3 format. The island nation has participated in World Cups, Asian Cups, Regional Cups, European Leagues, you name it, the locals have set foot in all of those.
Not just playing in foreign tournaments, Sri Lankan players have managed to rank themselves at the top in the world.
In 2018, when FIBA released the U18 3×3 Women`s Individual Ranking, it was Rashmi Taniya Perera, from St. Joseph`s Girl`s School – Nugegoda who was ranked #1 with 131,355 points. Lubna Morseth, from Colombo International School, was ranked #4 with 123, 280 points.
Having rejoiced over the ranking, Sri Lanka also participated in Youth Olympics for the first time in the history of the sport. Among the many firsts, Sri Lanka beat Egypt, 17-15 and almost went on to beat the USA but fell short after a brilliant start 21-08.
Sri Lanka hosted the SABA 3×3 Quest Cup 2018 in Colombo and topped the event beating India, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Afghanistan.
2018 Taught Us
The most important lesson 2018 taught Sri Lanka Basketball was, practice makes perfect. A factor that has been haunting the country’s game, especially lacking a structured practice schedules prior to a tournament.
Behind the illuminating performances in both 5on5 and 3×3 highlights for the year were, that these players were put through well-mannered practice sessions. Sadly, Sri Lanka Basketball lacks consistency. If the administrators review the year 2018, the main learning curve is simple practice and nothing but practice.
The final round of qualifiers for the Asia Cup 2021 is coming up in 2019. On the 3×3 aspect, Sri Lanka will be participating in more foreign tournaments and a World Cup as well. So if the practices are halted for a long period, this climb in the sport will drop.
After a decade or so, Sri Lanka has expedited the sport into a higher level, so either Sri Lanka Basketball could choose the old saggy way of in-consistency or continue the good work and achieve much greater heights in 2019.
All in all it has been a fruitful year and it is hoped the form would go from strength to strength.