Sri Lanka’s basketball team is in a bio-secure bubble in Colombo training for over two weeks ahead of the SABA Championship in Dhaka, Bangladesh and the Head Coach Susil Udukumbura is confident of having a successful campaign.

A strong 15 member squad, a good mixture of youth and experience, has been chosen by the national selection panel and Udukumbura was pleased with multi-talented players at his disposal.

“We have been in the bio-secure bubble since the 12th of October and we are expected to leave to Dhaka on the 12th of November. The team and the coaching staff are staying at Sugathadasa Sports Hotel and we have been using the facilities here at the gym, swimming pool and the court. Great initiative by the Basketball Federation to pool everyone in one group for a period of one month although it is an expensive affair,” Udukumbura said.

“The companies that we work for have been good to us as well as everyone has been granted duty leave. On the part of the players, it’s a huge sacrifice to leave their families and stay here for one month. We have been doing intense training for the last two weeks and we have two more weeks before we leave and I am sure all the effort that has been put in will stand in good stead,” noted Udukumbura.

The average age of Sri Lanka’s squad is 24 and although on the first glance it looks like thin on experience, Udukumbura does not think so. “There is a good mixture of youth and experience I would say. All the players in the squad if you take, at some stage they have represented Sri Lanka at youth or senior level. So there’s lot of experience,” the Head Coach assessed.

The six nation tournaments will be played on a round robin basis so Sri Lanka will play against India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives. The top two teams will qualify. Sri Lanka qualified last time around in 2018 having topped the points table. On that occasion, however, India did not participate and Sri Lanka’s biggest challenge this time around would come from their neighbours.

“We are very confident of doing well. What excites me most is that we have multi-skilled players at our disposal. If you take someone like Praneeth Udumalagala, he can play as a forward, power forward and point guard. Then there’s Shehan Udayanga who can play as a forward or power forward. We also have captain Clinton Stallone who is equally good as a point guard and can switch as forward if needed. So that gives us lot of depth.

Sri Lanka Basketball Federation appreciates the support given by Minister of Sports Hon. Namal Rajapaksa, Institute of Sports Medicine and Department of Sports Development lead up to the competition and for the growth of the sport.

The selection panel of Sri Lanka Basketball Federation (SLBF) has put out a strong 15 member pool for the upcoming SABA Championship in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The pool is a good mixture of youth and experience and should fare well in the SABA Championship.

Clinton Stallone of Sri Lanka Navy will captain the side.

The squad contains two schoolboys in Yoganathan Simron from Angel International School, Jaffna and Shehan Fernando of St. Joseph A total of 60 players attended trials and the squad was pruned to 15 after the selection process was completed.

Yogananthan Simron Angel International School, Jaffna

Asanka Mahesh Rajakaruna SL Navy

Dasun Nilantha Mendis Ministry of Education

Praneeth Udumalagala FairFirst Insuarance Ltd

Nimesh Fernando DFCC Bank

Sasindu Dilshan Gajanayake SL Army

Shehan Fernando St. Joseph’s College, Colombo

Clinton Stallone SL Navy

Thimothi Nithushan Commercial Credit and Finance PLC

Shehan Udayanga Perera FairFirst Insuarance Ltd

Gayan de Croos Commercial Credit and Finance PLC

Arnold Brent ESOFT Metro Campus

Pawan Gamage SL Army

Chanuka Shehan Fernando DFCC Bank

Rukshan Athapaththu University of Moratuwa

The Basketball Federation of Sri Lanka singed the ‘Safe Sport’ policy in sport mooted by the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee at the NOC SL headquarters on October 12.

By signing this groundbreaking agreement, the SLBF is hoping to make the sport safe for the athlete and make the scope wider for participation. Explaining their stance newly elected SLBF President Aelian Gunawardena said “Basketball like any other sport particularly a sport that is played amongst females as much as males require that the players are kept safe when it comes to the coaching staff, management staff and the parents. Essentially it has to be safe place for all participants.

“It also has to be safe among the players as well. You have to be mindful of seniors bullying the juniors and harass them in other ways. It is important that it has to be a safe place for the juniors to be in the sport. I noticed this even in schools the younger players may be qualified to play along with the seniors, but are weary owing to the said reasons. But if there are is a laid down policy which spells the way that a player or anyone connected to the team could be penalised through the federations to the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka it might be a good way of making feel safer and I believe this is the whole purpose of it. Then even there is a predator they would be mindful and back off”.

Gunawardena said that he was elected to the chair two months ago and one of the very first acts of the new body was to appoint a new code conduct taking salient points from institutions like the NOC SL and other sports bodies. He said that when there is a policy laid down on paper there is a mechanism to address particular situations.

The picture shows NOC SL Women’s Committee Chairperson Niloo Jayathilaka handing over the “Safe Sport” policy MOU to SLBF President Aelian Gunawardena. Also seen in the picture are Chandana Liyanage (NOC SL Assistant Secretary and Secretary SLBF) and Suresh Subramaniam (President NOC SL) (Picture by Kandula Yatawara NOC SL)