Sports

Udumalagala provides the initiative to Times

- ADARSHA DHAKAL, Kathmandu

Jun 20, 2019-

Sri Lankan recruit Praneeth Udumalagala once again starred for Times International Club to hand his team a 81-69 win over Nepal Police Club in Game 1 of the first Qualifier match of the Nepal Basketball League on Wednesday.

The victory gives the initiative for Times to enter the final in the best of three series following a 1-0 lead at the National Sports Council covered hall. Udumalagala, who came into the match after three consecutive 20 plus scores in the first Qualifier against Tribhuvan Army Club, rolled in 24 points, took 15 rebounds and made four assists for Times.

Against an NPC team bolstered by the inclusion of two tall Bangladeshi recruits, Times comparatively gave a better show to recover from a lacklustre performance against Army in Game 3 on Tuesday. Skipper Sadish Pradhan netted seven and Bikram Joshi scored six as Times went 21-9 ahead with 32 seconds left.

Bikash Gurung sunk a three pointer to make 21-13 before Udumalagala’s buzzer-beating three handed Times a 24-12 lead after the completion of the first quarter. In an evenly-contested second quarter, Udumalagala sunk another three to put Times 29-20 ahead before NPC fought back in the game. Bimal Jung Karki and Sandesh Tamang converted both of his free throws to make it 29-24 with 3:49 gone.

After scoring another two, Tamang netted a three-pointer to tie the score at 29-29 with 4:24 remaining. Police then led for the first time in the game after Bangladeshi signing Mohammad Akash converted both of his free throws with 3:45 left. Udumalagala soon tied the score with a two and Pradhan scored next seven points including a three-pointer as Times went into the second half with a slim 38-36 lead.

With both teams converting in their possession, Bijay Burja’s three-pointer put Times 45-42 ahead and from there on NPC were made to play catch-up game. Pradhan’s two-pointer gave them a 54-57 lead with 58 seconds remaining. After Manish KC missed both his free throws, Gurung’s two made it 54-49 and a three from Udumulagala with two seconds left put Times 57-49 ahead.

Udumalagala maintained Times eight-point lead at 61-53 but a two from Karki and three from Gurung once again brought NPC back at 61-58 with 6:38 left in the final quarter. Gurung continued to put NPC in the game after his three-pointer made it 68-64. NPC had few turn overs after Times defended solidly and the match slipped away from their hands in the last two minutes.

A two from Joshi with 2:15 left regained Times eight-point lead at 74-66. Akash sunk a two and converted one free shot to make 74-69. But with flags on, Times managed to draw foul and converted seven out of 10 free shots they earned. Burja and Udumalagala netted eight points each for Times. Burja also contributed 20 points and Pradhan chipped 18.

Gurung and Karki scored 16 points each for NPC, while Aakash netted 15. NPC can force Game 3 if they defeat Times on Thursday. Having finished fourth after the double round robin league, NPC had beaten Golden Gate International Club in the first two Eliminator games to have another shot at the final.

Published: 20-06-2019 09:06

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