Basketball: Fourteen teams withdrew from the Coronation Cup that began yesterday because the venue for the tournament was shifted to the semi-indoor court of Thimphu primary school.

The indoor basketball court at the Swimming Pool complex where all basketball tournaments are held is not safe according to engineers who assessed the building that was built in the early 1970s.

The national coach with Bhutan Basketball Federation (BBF), Tenxin Jamtsho said the withdrawal has affected the tournament, but they couldn’t cancel the tournament. “In fact, we are letting the only three women’s team play because we want to promote women’s basketball in the country,” he said.

Asked if the teams withdrew because of the condition of the court, the coach declined to comment. However, teams who withdrew said that it was for safety reasons.

Sonam Tobgay of team Drukpas said the court at the Thimphu primary school is made out of plastic and not parquet floor like the one at Swimming Pool court. “Most of the players are not used to playing on this type of court. The risks of injuries are higher on such surface than on the wooden floors,” he said.   Others also shared the same reason. “The floor is not even and could led to major injuries,” said one.

BBF pays Nu 2000 to the school each day for the court. “This was the only available court we could manage at the final moment,” coach Jamtsho said. However, the coach said that prize money will not change.

Winners in both the categories will take home a sum of Nu 30,000 and the runners up will be given Nu 20,000.

Sangay Dorji, a participant said that although the number of teams participating has decreased this year, the quality of the competition has not declined. “Better teams have registered this year and hopefully it will be an interesting and challenging tournament,” he said.

Sangay also said that the experience of playing in an indoor court is better than playing in an outdoor court and for that matter even in a semi-indoor court. “Given an opportunity, we would like to play in the swimming pool court,” he said.

The tournament began with only 20 teams, 17 men’s and three women’s team.

Meanwhile, in a tightly contested first game of the tournament, Wizards defeated Phojas 72-62. Jamyang Namgyal of team Wizards scored 33 points, the highest in the game.

In the second game Blue Magics thrashed newcomer Takzimba, 56-13. Team Blue Magics dominated the game from the beginning, doubling their lead in each quarter. Clumsy dribbles and miss-passes from the rookie gave Blue Magics an easy first win in the tournament.

In the women’s category defending champions Pamos thrashed Tshomens 47-14. Tshomens tried getting back in the game after trailing by seven points in the second quarter. However, they could not break through the strong defense of last year’s champions.

The league-cum-knockout tournament will end on June 21.

By Younten Tshedup