Army survive Times fightback, draw first bloodNepal Police Club defeat Golden Gate 78-72 with Bikash Gurung contributing 23 points in an Eliminator match.
Tribhuvan Army Club survive a sensational comeback from Times International Club to draw first blood in their three-match Qualifier with a 79-65 victory in the Nepal Basketball League on Sunday.
Ayush Singh dropped in 24 points for last year’s runners-up Army at the National Sports Council covered hall which will host all the playoffs and final. In the early game, Nepal Police Club took away the match from defending champions Golden Gate in the final quarter registering 78-72 win the first match of the three-match Eliminator.
Times headed into the match with clear favourites including three players with over 6’2”ft players in their first five. But the home grown talents of Army took gave a dominating performance in the first two quarters after beginning the first with a 26-13 lead with Ram Krishna Ghatane netting seven points.
Singh scored two three-pointer in the second quarter and netted 8 out of 22 points Army, who went into the second half with a strong 15-point lead. Times netted 20 in the second quarter. Singh scored the first six points of Army early in the third quarter to give his side a 21-point cushion at 54-33 with 8:54 left.
Times fought back and reduced the deficit to seven points at 57-50 and headed to the decider trailing the Armymen 50-57. The final quarter was evenly contested as two points from Bijay Burja made it a four-point game at 69-65 with 1:34 left. But with flags on at both sides, Army converted eight out of 15 free shots they earned and a two from Ghatane sealed the game.
Army scored 17 points in the final quarter and Times netted 15. Ghatane also netted 15 points for Army. Skipper Sadhish Pradhan and Bijay Burja netted 14 points each for Times. The two teams will clash again on Monday for the second game where Times must win to force the Game 3. The winners will directly head to the final and the losing side will play the winners of the Eliminator match.
Golden Gate dominated the early exchanges in their match against Police establishing a 22-12 lead with 2:45 minutes remaining after Bipendra Maharjan sunk a three-pointer. Bikash Gurung replied with a three in NPC’s next possession as the departmental team hit back to make it a two-point game at 22-20.
Golden Gate did manage to put their nose ahead in the next two quarters but could not stretch their lead beyond five points at any stage in the next two quarters. They headed into the final quarter with a slim two-point (56-54) lead and it was all NPC in the first five minutes of the game. They tied the game at 56-56 at the start of the final quarter and Shahinu Rahman Shojib scored next seven points to put NPC 63-56 ahead.
The holders failed to score in the first 4:47 minutes and during the time NPC built a 13-point lead at 59-56 with a two-pointer from Jasang Sunwar. Maharjan reduced the gap to 10 points at 69-59 with a three-pointer but NPC raced away. Gurung top scored with 23 points for NPC apart from taking 13 rebounds.
Shojib also had a double double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Sunwar and Bimal Jung Karki netted 12 points each. Indian recruit Yogesh Kanderia scored 19 points for Golden Gate. The two teams will also play Game 2 on Monday.