Free-flowing Pradhan puts Times in finalTimes will now take on Tribhuvan Army Club in the final on Saturday.
Skipper Sadish Pradhan scored 21 of his 25 points in the last two quarters as Times International Club defeated Nepal Police Club 72-54 to take their best of three second Qualifier 2-0 and fix a mouth watering final clash of the Nepal Basketball League with Tribhuvan Army Club on Thursday.
In the playoffs largely dominated by Sri Lankan recruit Praneeth Udumulagala, it was Pradhan who delivered with his shooting accuracy dropping in four three pointers. Saturday’s final will not only give Times an opportunity to avenge the 2-1 defeat inflicted by Army in the first Qualifier but also claim their first ever title of Nepal’s only home and away league. Both teams had beaten each other at home in the league stage before Army went ahead 3-2 on head-to-head following their victory in the first Qualifier.
Police were a better opponents on Game 1 which they had lost 81-69 but on Thursday they looked lethargic with their key player Bikash Gurung almost remaining silent throughout the match netting just six points. NPC were trailing 13-10 before Gurung converted both of his free throws and Jasang Sunwar scored a two to put them 14-13 ahead in a low scoring first quarter.
NPC maintained the lead in the early minutes of the second quarter when their Bangladeshi recruit Mohammad Aakash drew a foul after scoring a two-pointer and converted the free shot. Bimal Jung Karki missed one of his two free throws but the departmental team managed to build their biggest lead (six points) of the game at 21-15 with 7:34 remaining. But from there on it was all Times show.
Mabindra Chhetri’s two tied the game at 21-21 with 4:20 gone before both teams failed to convert in their possession for more than three minutes. Times managed to scored nine points to head into the second half with a 30-21 lead. Udumalagala netted six and Bijay Burja scored five as Times took control of the second quarter 17-7.
The third quarter belonged to Pradhan as he scored 13 points during the period with two three-pointers. The national team captain sunk a three with 5:46 remaining to give Times a 15-point lead at 42-27. A two from Burja with 3:41 left put Times 19-point ahead at 51-32. NPC, however, fought back through Prasang Dhoj Maskey who scored eight points and a two from Gurung with 12 seconds left made it a nine-point game at 54-45.
As the final quarter began, Pradhan quickly stretched the lead to 12 points with a three pointer. After Udumalagal missed one free throw, Bimal Jung Karki’s two made it a 10-point game at 58-58. Udumulagala made amends by converting next four free throws as Times led 61-48 with 5:53 remaining. Pradhan netted next five points — two free throws and a three — as Times put their one foot in the final at 66-50 with 4:23 left.
NPC hardly managed to overhaul the 16 point deficit scoring just nine points to that of 19 from Times. Burja also contributed 15 points to Times total, while Joshi netted 12 and Udumalagal scored 11. Karki and Maskey scored 12 points each for NPC.
On Saturday, Samriddhi Gorillas will also take on Nepal Police Club in the women’s final. Gorillas had finished at the top after the double round robin league winning five out of six matches. They had won both their matches against Police and ISO Kite team which was bolstered by the inclusion of two players from Philippines.