Sri Lanka bask in the glow of debut victory
Sri Lanka’s women’s basketball 3x3 team made the perfect start to their Summer Youth Olympic Games debut at Buenos Aires 2018, beating Egypt at Urban Park on Monday 8 October.
The Asian nation does not have a rich basketball history, which also goes for the basketball 3x3 format. Lying 32nd in the world U-18 women’s rankings and eighth in Asia, they are making their first YOG appearance and were not expected to upset the Egyptians in their Pool B opener.
Defying the odds, Leia Hamza, Lubna Morseth, Nihari Athukorala Wickramage and Rashmi Taniya P. Sri Wickramage Don combined to pull off a fine 17-15 win, which they celebrated with a joyous mid-court huddle as fans waved a Sri Lanka flag in the stands.
“It wasn’t easy at first, but we never gave up and it ended up being a close match,” said Hamza, who hit three two-pointers. It’s great to play for your country at the Games. It’s a feeling you can’t explain. We’re taking it step by step and we’re not thinking about the podium.”
Team-mate Morseth, who was Sri Lanka’s top scorer with seven points and also collected 11 rebounds, echoed those words: “We hope Buenos Aires 2018 is the first step in our careers. We’ve a lot of support from our country and we’re so happy.”
In their second game of the day, the Asians took on basketball giants USA and competed well in a keenly contested opening to the game. The Americans’ slick interplay eventually told, however, and they coasted to a 21-8 win, the start of what they will hope is a run to the gold medal.
Not even defeat could dampen what was a momentous day for Sri Lanka, however, and with games against Ukraine and Venezuela to come on Friday 12 October, Buenos Aires 2018 could yet prove to be even more momentous for their intrepid quartet.