SURAT THANI, Thailand (20th FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Women): Sport, they say, is all about optimum utilization of available resources scoring over adverse circumstances. The Sri Lankan team’s performance in the current competition is one of those examples.
The Middle Asian nation came into the competition with no big expectations, but returns with two wins.
“I’m particularly pleased by the way we won against Syria,” says Sri Lankan Head Coach Sushil Udukumbura.
Sanduni Perrera pulled off a buzzer-beating drive in to give Sri Lanka a 51-49 against Syria to round off the campaign with two wins. The girl from the Emerald Isles had beaten lowly Laos earlier.
“That game (against Syria) tested our girls. We were playing an equal opposition and the girls proved they can raise their game to win,” Udukumbura said in an interview to this website assessing his team’s overall performance in the competition.
“What makes it more interesting is that we had lost a similar game to Philippines earlier. That was a game when we let go of the advantage in the fourth quarter,” he added.
“The girls definitely learnt from the mistakes they made against Philippines. That showed on the court when we played against Syria,” he said.
The 37-year-old spoke more at length on this win against Syria.
“In a lot of ways, that game was our best performance. Like I said, it capped our learning experience,” he said.
“There is no purpose in a learning experience is, unless it translates into results. It’s frustrating to see the team lose game after game, even if it is against much better opposition,” he said.
“People begin to question the very credibility of our learning experience if we don’t show results. But, now I think we have done well. In fact, in my analysis, we exceeded our expectations,” he said.
Does it mean Sri Lanka can no longer be taken for granted?
“I would like that to be true. But then I am not making a statement of any kind here,” Udukumbura said.
“It’s too early to get into those analyses yet. I’d like these girls to take one step at a time. That is the only we can function given the disadvantages we work with,” Udukumbura reasoned.
“I hope we can find some tall players and rope into our system,” he added.
“For now, I am very pleased that we are returning with two wins in our bag. And one game which we could have won,” he rounded off.
S Mageshwaran / FIBA Asia