Army, GGIC in title fight

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- Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 31, 2018-

Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC) and Golden Gate International College (GGIC) face off in what is expected to be a high octane final clash of the Kwiks Basketball League (KBL) on Saturday.

The Armymen could have easily gone into Saturday’s clash as clear favourites  considering their clinical performance in the entire double round robin league. But a defeat to GGIC in the last league game not only ended their 13-match winning streak but also allowed their opponent to look for a upset. 

GGIC had a shaky start to their tournament winning just one in the first five matches before forging a fine comeback to finish second. TAC had beaten GGIC comprehensively 80-50 in their home match. However, a 95-80 victory over Army in the return leg brought GGIC back into contention. TAC coach Yaman Gurung admitted the defeat in the second leg have shaken their confidence but claimed his side is still the favourites.

“There are few good players in GGIC team but I believe in our senior players. We are now playing at a neutral venue (at National Sports Council covered hall) and the boys are pretty good at the surface. We just want our senior boys to play to their potential,” said Gurung on the eve of the final.

GGIC coach Bipin Kapali was confident of lifting the title. “The only area we need to work is converting our scoring attempts. We had a poor start as we missed the services of a few key players. They are now back,” said Kapali. 

Army will miss the lanky post player Bikram Joshi who played the first few matches before leaving for the US. Army skipper Rabin Khatri acknowledged the void left by Joshi. “It would have been a 60-40 game in our favour had Bikram been with us. Now its a 50-50 affair. We have to subdue some of the senior GGIC seniors,” added Khatri who has been an instrumental force in TAC’s tournament journey with 277 points, 110 assists and 59 rebounds. 

Former national team skipper and current captain Bipendra Maharjan’s availability will be a  big morale booster for GGIC. Maharjan only feature in seven out of 14 league games and his presence had been pivotal, including his 37-point performance against Bishal Milan Kendra in a 113-79 rout of Bishal Milan Kendra in the playoff. 

“There are some quick players in TAC squad and it will be a big challenge for us to contain them. We have been playing together for more than 10 years. We have played as a team and a family, been through good and bad times. We know each other very well and that will be our biggest strength,” said Maharjan. 

While Maharjan, Rajiv Joshi, Bikram Dangol, Binod Shrestha and Anish Shahi Thakuri will be the men to watch in the final, TAC will expect their key player Sadish Pradhan to shine. Binod Maharjan, Ayush Singh, Ajay Manandhar and young Ashish Basnet are other TAC players expected to play their part.

Published: 31-03-2018 08:40

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