Times, Police win Nepal Basketball LeagueSadish Pradhan takes his second consecutive MVP of the tournament. Anusha Malla best among the women.
Times International Club and Nepal Police Club claimed Nepal Basketball League titles on Saturday with contrasting victories in the final.
Skipper Sadish Pradhan and Sri Lankan recruit Praneeth Udumalagala were at the top of their game collecting 60 points between them as Times eased to a 88-71 victory over Tribhuvan Army Club in the men’s final. In the women’s final Anusha Malla played a key role as Police overturned an 12-point deficit to beat Samriddhi Gorillas 65-52.
Times went into the match after they were inflicted a 2-1 defeat in the best of three first Qualifier by Army. But the title contenders lived up to expectations once they went 19-12 ahead in the first quarter. Udumalagala alone dropped in nine points in the first 10 minutes. Consecutive two-pointers from Binod Maharjan put Army 12-10 ahead with 4:04 remaining before Times dominated.
Udumalagala scored three back-to-back two-pointers and Bijay Burja sunk a three with 53 seconds remaining to give Times a seven-point cushion. Udumalagala was once again in the focus after the Sri Lankan netted 11 points in the second quarter. He drew a foul in a two-pointer and converted the free throw to put Times ahead by 13 points at 36-23.
After Pradhan scored two free throws, Maharjan missed one for Army and Anish Diwakar’s two helped Times establish a 16-point lead at 40-24. A three-pointer from Pradhan in the early minutes of the third quarter made it a 21-point game at 47-26 before Army fought back hard to reduce the gap and two converted free throws from Ajay Kushwaha, who netted 15 points in the game, made it 51-39.
Times hardly missed in their possession as they went into the decider with a healthy 17-point lead although Army gave a good fight scoring 26 to that of 27 from their opponents in the third quarter. The final quarter belonged to Pradhan after the shooting guard scored 11 points that included three 3-pointers. Both teams netted 21 points each in the final period. Pradhan rolled in seven three-pointers in his 27 points and Udumalagal gave a grand show with 33 points in the game.
Pradhan, who ended up claiming his second consecutive MVP award of the tournament, hailed his team for the title triumph. “We were confident because we had a good line-up. A lot of people were thinking that having Praneeth has made us strong but we had a lot of adjustments to do for him. The boys did extremely well and played their part in the victory,” said Pradhan.
The guys have done a lot of sacrifices because there were players who had to spend most of times in the bench or didn’t get enough playing time despite playing together for six to eight months. I don’t think this could have been possible even without them,” added the national team skipper who rolled in seven three-pointers in the game.
In a closely-contested women’s final, Gorillas led the first quarter 12-8 after Alina Gurung scored six points. The lead inflated to 12 points in the opening minutes of the second quarter when Muna Maharjan drew a foul in her 3-pointer and converted the free throw to make it 17-8. Srijana Giri netted anoter three as Gorillas led 20-8 with 1:40 gone.
Preeti Tulachan and skipper Alisha Malla both hit three pointers and another two from the former made it a four-point game at 20-16 with 6:20 remaining in the second quarter. Gorillas were still leading 25-17 but another three from Alisha and a two from Tulachan made it a one shot game at 25-22 with 3:46 left. Soni Waiba Tamang converted both free shots and skipper Sadina Shrestha scored two as Gorillas once again built a seven-point (29-22) lead.
NPC made sure they remain in the game after a three from Anisha and two from Preeti cut the gap to two points heading into the third quarter. Consecutive two-pointers from Anusha in the start of the third quarter put NPC ahead for the first time in the game. Tamang took a rebound and converted to tie the scores after Shrestha missed both of her free shots. It was Neha Chaudhary who helped NPC build a healthy lead after she scored six points in less than two minutes putting them 40-34 ahead with 4:58 remaining. NPC never looked back after that lead and turned game around in the third quarter which they took 22-13. NPC also led the final quarter 16-10.
Tournament MPV Anusha scored 16 points for NPC and Alisha netted 12. Gurung was the top scorer of the game with 18 points. Alisha was happy to win the title beating a team against whom they had lost twice in the double league. “We had a good team and made few mistakes in those two matches. We wanted to make sure that we don’t repeat them. It was a good teamwork,” said Alisha.