Sri Lanka (SL) played their opening game in the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers against Asian power-house Jordan (JOR) in Jordan on the 21st of February 2020. The unmatched rebounds and the turn-overs took the game away from SL at full time, 100-45.
Game in a nutshell
SL stepped into a formidable start against the home-side but fell prey to a superlative Jordanian full-court press for the remaining three-quarters of the game. SL trailed the game by a couple of points closing out the maiden quarter, 18-16.
The strategy of locking the paint-down and ensuring that the Jordan players work hard to score drove well in favor of the islanders. More than three offensive 3-second violations were called which contributed to taking the momentum off the home-side.
The quick transition from defense to offense and the smart selection of shots kept SL afloat. In a Jordanian point of view, it was perhaps the scrappiest of starts witnessed in a match.
Amending the mistake, the Asian heavyweights, posed a hefty threat opting to continue their full-court press into the second quarter. Being trapped into the corners of the surface, the islanders failed to initiate effective offensive possessions which ticked the score-board.
On the other end, SL leaked too many fouls, which were bought into full-value by the opposition opening the game in the second quarter. The full-court defensive ploy and the conceding of fouls turned the game around and SL failed to make a come-back until the final whistle.
However, SL played some breathtaking minutes of basketball in the final quarter, but it was all too late to cut a massive Jordanian lead. If SL were able to keep the same momentum in offense during the second and the third quarter, the score-board would have depicted a different tale.
It was the young SL side that was matched up against the 37th ranked team of the globe. Coach Udukumbura did not fancy his usual player rotation as the team has 06 new replacements from the previous outing. Given the background, it was a resolute performance by the islanders against a top-tier team in the continent.
Full Time Score: Sri Lanka – 45 – 100 – Jordan
Sri Lanka: Yellow
Both the sides did not opt for many perimeter shots until SL dominated the arc in the final quarter. SL converted 09 out of their 33 attempts while Jordan converted 4 out of their 27 attempts. Most of the points for Jordan came off the second-chances and with the possessions they grabbed after turn-overs. The mid-range j`s and the lay-ups were tough ask for the SL lads as the home-side outsmarted the visitors in the physique. In perspective, Jordan could have done immensely better in terms of shooting and it was a healthy challenge from SL.
Rebounds were an early bother for SL, not having the likes of Praneeth Udumalagala, Isuru Perera and Kisal Cooray, SL did not have many chances in contesting the boards. It was only Gayan De Cross who could have tried his luck, but unfortunately for the Lankan`s, he was injured mid-way in the game. On the other hand, Jordan possessing the height advantage, it was a walk-in-the-park for the boards.
The turn-overs and the second-chance points are the two factors that took the game away from SL. All in all, Jordan`s approach to the game was clumsy which lead them to make too many blunders but were fortunate enough to possess the height-advantage to grab the boards and convert.
The many turn-overs are a result of an arduous full-court press that was opted by Jordan in the second and third quarter. Inside the twenty-minutes Sri Lanka failed to score more than 15-points while Jordan scored 50+.
Pawan Gamage, the live-wire of the Sri Lankan attack, played gritty basketball being matches up against players as twice his size. Gamage equalized the game in two occasions in the first quarter, dishing out two lay-ups which completely sizzled the defense. His hustle on the court and the awareness of the game-play was right on the mark. Gamage, a star in making.