HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Golden Gate Club and Prime Sports Club won the third Morgan Cup 12th Men’s and 11th Women’s National Basketball Championships here at the National Sports Council covered hall today.
In the men’s final, Golden Gate defeated NASA 79-71, while Prime overcame Premier Club 48-38 in women’s section to win their fourth national trophy. NASA couldn’t get the best out of their key men Binod Maharjan and Robin Khatri —who had combined for 55 points in the semi-final match against Premier on Monday.
Golden Gate’s expectations were high from their shooting guard Sushil Gurung after they watched him toss in 37 points in their semi-finals against South Siders but solid marking from NASA players prevented him from playing freely. Instead, Golden Gate rode on 23 points from their rookie Manish Rajopadhyaya that landed them the trophy.
Golden Gate began high with three pointers from Karma Gurung and Sushil but NASA kept on firing at the other end with two-point shots to go neck-to-neck. NASA led for the first time in the match after six minutes with a two-point from Ajay Manandhar and ended the first quarter with 23-20 lead. NASA maintained their lead for the first five minutes of the second period but two three-pointers from veteran Rabindra Maharjan and one from Manish gave Golden Gate a nine-point (41-30) advantage with 3:26 minutes left. However, Binod netted another six points and a three from Ajay brought the game to just one-point difference with 1:34 minutes left. Four points from Manish and two from Sushil saw Golden Gate lead the quarter 27-20 and established a four-point overall lead going into the break.
NASA levelled the scores in the third quarter scoring 18 points with Binod alone contributing 10. Both teams headed into the deciding quarter with scores tied at 61-each after Golden Gate could only add 14. Golden Gate moved ahead in the final quarter with a three pointer from Manish and two from their skipper Bipendra Maharjan and never trailed.
NASA gave it up when a free shot from Manish put Golden Gate 76-71 ahead with 1:44 minutes left. Manish ended the quarter with eight points, while Sujan Pun’s six points during the period was also crucial for Golden Gate.
Binod was still the performer of the day with a match-high 25 points and 12 rebounds, while Robin had 11 assists to add to his 14 points. Tournament MVP Sushil netted 13 points with six assists.
Golden Gate coach Bipin Kapali said his plan worked in the final. “We knew it was always going to be tough against NASA but we had our plans and that paid off. Our youngsters did quite well and supported the seniors nicely,” he said. NASA coach Yaman Guurng said injuries to key players cost them dear. “Binod played the match taking pain-killer for his knee trouble with Robin also undergoing similar problem. The worst part was that most of our shots were not converted,” said the coach.
Earlier in the women’s final, Prime capitalised on the five-foul exit of Premier’s key player Sujata Rai to register a convincing victory.
Prime led the first quarter 10-9 and extended it further with a 10-6 lead in the second. Premier were hit hard when Sujata was sent off for her fifth foul and they never recovered.
Prime were ahead 8-6 in the third quarter and sealed the victory with a 20-17 lead in the final period. Tournament MVP Sneha Shrestha scored 15 points for the winners with Gyanu Gauchan also contributing valuable 12 points. Mrinalini Shrestha top-scored for Premier with 11 points.