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.