What Nepali basketball players lack in the height department, they more than make up for on the agility front.
That is the impression spectators get watching the prelims of the 2 nd Fr Watrin Basketball Championship at the Godavari Alumni Association (GAA). Basketball is gaining popularity in schools and many of the players at the GAA indoor court appear to have honed their ball-passing skills, displaying well-placed lay-ups and long-distance dunks.
As the prelims of the Championship draws to an end, the excitement is mounting. The current champions Gyan Club were unable to compete this year because most of the team are national level players now training in India. Himalayan Whitehouse, runners-up last year, are therefore having a field day. This tournament is named after American Jesuit Fr Eugene Watrin who died last year, he was an avid sportsperson and worked with GAA for 30 years.
The tournament, which started on 25 June has 16 participating teams-up from 12 last year. The league matches continue till 2 July with quarterfinals scheduled 4-5 July, semi-finals on 7 July and the finals on 9 July.As the league matches progressed, Everest Southsiders from Pool A, RIBS and KAB4 from Pool B, Himalayan Whitehouse and Galaxian from Pool C and Kathmandudes and Ideal Model from Pool D emerged as frontrunners with the highest scoring team in the tournament so far being RIBS - 122 points. Teams with players from schools like Lincoln were doing a lot better than the others. In fact, it seems that a lot of the teams preferred having players from international schools, not just for their added height advantage (which isn\'t always the case, it must be said) but because they seemed to be more dedicated and experienced players.
Says head of GAA\'s Student Organising Committee, Ankit Rimal, There is a lot of dependency on players of international origin or schools and they also seem to have a lot more teamwork. Everest Southsiders have one player from an international school while RIBS and Kathmandudes have quite a few. Says Niraj Singh Himalayan Whitehouse skipper, who has no players from international schools, Having players from international schools can be both an advantage and a disadvantage-you get to learn new techniques and their standards are high but they dominate the game and other players barely get to play.
Lincolnite, Rishi Robertson, highest scorer so far with 43 points says, We had better coaches in school and were regular with our practice. This is why our fundamentals are better developed, other players normally start playing basketball as recreation and never really work on their technique.
The heat is on and as the end of the league draws near, the players seem pretty confident of themselves. Says Singh of Whitehouse, Reaching the finals depends on other teams as well but we definitely have a place in the semifinals.