Kwiks Basketball league concluded on March 31, 2018, with Golden Gate International College defeating Tribhuvan Army Club, 97-96, with an epic buzzer-beater win to end a memorable tournament.
The tournament, which started on February 17, was the first-ever club level ‘home and away’ league basketball tournament to be held in Nepal. There were eight teams involved, with each playing 14 matches in a double round-robin league phase. Teams were awarded ‘3 points’ per win and the top four teams at the end of the league stage moved on to the play-offs. In the play-offs, the team that finished 1st (Tribhuvan Army Club) faced the team that finished 4th (Himalayan Hounds) in the league, and similarly, the 2nd (Golden Gate International College) and 3rd (Bishal Milan Kendra) place finishers met. The winner of the two matches moved on to the finals, while the other two teams faced off for the bronze medal.
Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC) dominated the league stages winning all but one of their 14 matches. Second was Golden Gate International College (GGIC) followed by Bishal Milan Kendra (BMK). Rounding up the playoff was Himalayan Hounds (HH) who qualified by managing win just a game more than fifth place ANK Kirtipur Basketball Team (KBT). BMC Southsiders Club (SSBC), Team Budhanilkantha Municipality (TBM) and Xavier International (XIC) ended the league stages as 6th, 7th and 8th respectively.
In the playoffs, TAC made short work of the Hounds winning 104-79 at home registering a place in the final. In the other game, GGIC won with a slightly better margin of 113-79 against BMK.
The final two games were held in National Sport Council’s Covered Hall. The third place match between Bishal Milan Kendra and Himalayan Hounds was first up, with BMK winning the match 80-70 to secure the bronze medals. In the final, Golden Gate gave away a 13-point lead only to come back and break Army hearts with a last second buzzer-beater winner.
A tight game from the start, Golden Gate managed to get a 10-point lead at half-time. An even third quarter meant that they kept that lead going into the penultimate quarter of the tournament. However, the resilient TAC kept believing and managed to take the lead, 84-82 with less than 3 and a half minutes remaining. A flurry of points from both sides over the next few minutes saw TAC tie the game at 95-95 with less than 30 seconds left.
The final seconds of the game was most definitely what made a great game of basketball, into an historical event.With only seconds left in the game, and the score still tied at 95-95, TAC captain Rabin Khatri was fouled culminating in 2 free-throws. Khatri was only successful in converting one, but with just one second remaining it should had been enough to win TAC the title. The twist (and the controversy) came when Golden Gate called a quick timeout which moved the ball up-court. The inbound pass from Sushil Gurung found Manesh Raj Rajopadhyaya who grabbed the ball and jumped up to shoot the game winner. The crowd emptied the stands to celebrate with the GGIC team, all the while the TAC players were complaining that the officials had delayed the buzzer. It was only after a long deliberation with the officials, team representatives and organizer that Golden Gate International College were officially announced as the winners.
Although the tournament concluded on a slightly sour note, it was a huge success and managed to accomplish a lot more than it had originally set out to do. Initiated by Play for Deprived Children Nepal (PDCN), an NGO focuses on bringing sports into the mainstream and also work towards integrating sports in our education system to enhance the learning experience. It was only with the help of Nepal Basketball Association (NeBA), who provided the technical support, and a host of volunteers that they competition was able to conclude so successfully.
Arun Karki, Chairman of PDCN said that for an organization that focused on activities outside the valley, it was challenge. He said, “We decided to organize this tournament to bring basketball into the lime-light. In recent years, the quality of basketball in the country had been steadily declining, and it was time for something to be done.” He added, “We will be channeling the success of the tournament into our projects outside Kathmandu Valley, where people who have little idea about the sport can learn about it and in-turn new talents can emerge developing the entire sports scene in the country.”
A thing that must be accredited to the hard working team of organizers is the way they managed a national level tournament with limited resources. This was more evident in their online presence, with Karki and the league’s coordinator Namit Bahadur Thapa using the resources they had to its fullest. For starters, the games were broadcasted live in their Facebook page and would receive hundreds of viewers. Also, the records of all the games and the 112 players involved during the tournament were updated into Google docs, for the fans to study.
Along with the quality of basketball, another step forward was the prizes that were offered to the players. The winners Golden Gate International College received Rs 2 lakhs along with their medals and trophy. Similarly, the 2nd and 3rd place teams received Rs 1 Lakh and Rs 50 Thousand. Individual awards of Rs 10 thousand were also given to TAC’s Sadish Pradhan as the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament; BMK’s Bikash Gurung as the Highest Scorer; TAC’s Binod Maharjan as the Best Defender; BMK’s Bibek Shrestha as the Emerging Talent; and KBT’s Rabindra Maharjan as the Best Coach. Along with these, player of the match were also awarded gift vouchers from the sponsors after each match.
Karki also confirmed that this is to be an annual event and promised that in would improve each year in terms of the quality of play as well with the player facilities. As for the fans, they were happy to see high scoring games in the country and excited that the sport that they love has got a new lease of live in Nepal.