NeBA all set to host qualifying tourney

Kathmandu, September 4

Nepal Basketball Association is all set to host the U-16 SABA Basketball Championship, which is also the qualifying tournament for the South Asian nations for the FIBA Asia Championship, here from September 5-9.

A total of five teams — Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Maldives and Bhutan — are taking part in the tournament which will be played under round robin league format. “Pakistan did not participate in the tournament because of their internal problem, while Sri Lanka pulled out of the event this morning,” said NeBA President Lama Tendi Sherpa at a press meet today. Top team will earn berth in the FIBA Asia Championship.

The estimated budget of the tournament is Rs 4.57 million and the main sponsor Kedia Organisation’s Sitaram Gokul Milks Kathmandu Limited has provided the organisers with a support of Rs 1.1 million in cash and kind. “We are using

Rs 1.5 million from the NeBA fund and hope that the NSC will support the remaining amount for the championship,” added Sherpa, who is also the Vice-president of NSC and General Secretary of Nepal Olympic Committee.

Bhutan will face Bangladesh in the opening match of the tournament on Tuesday, while India and Maldives face each other in the day’s another match. The formal opening ceremony of the tournament will be held on Wednesday followed by Nepal’s first match against Bhutan, informed NeBA General Secretary Narendra Thapa.

This is the third time Nepal are hosting the South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) event in Kathmandu. “It will certainly help in boosting the morale of young Nepali cagers to shine in international event and we are also expecting support from all sectors to make the event a grand success,” Thapa added.

The Nepal U-16 team coach Rabindra Man Maharjan said the team was raring to go into the court. “We are hoping to register victories against Bangladesh, Maldives and Bhutan, while the team is determined to put up a tough fight against India,” said Maharjan, who is leading a rookie team. “We had two-month training and also played friendly matches,” he added.

The team was selected in five phases. A total of 65 players joined the preliminary camp and the coaching team trimmed that to 12 after three rounds of selection. Santosh Dahal Khatri will lead the Nepali side that also includes Aashish Basnet, Chiranjivi Rokaya, Sagun Rai, Satish Lama, Abhishek Singh, Nikhil Dangol, Bikram Baniya, Suresh BK, Aashish Bhujel, Sujan Limbu and Aakrist Sahani. Aashish KC is the assistant coach, while Bishnu Hari Tripathi is the team manager.

Skipper Khatri said the team was confident and they were excited to participate in the event. “We got to learn a lot in the camp as there was no much training in school-level,” said Khatri. “I think we can beat the opponents and the match against India will be a tough one,” he added.

Meanwhile, NeBA President Sherpa said the Nepali girls’ team was preparing to participate in the SABA U-16 Championship slated for October 22-28 in India. “We are really excited with the response from the players as we got 95 enrolments in the preliminary camp,” said Sherpa. “We have already started the team preparation for the championship and we are hopeful of doing well in India,” he added.