Basketball: Newcomers Crackjacks gave Pazaps, one of the leading basketball teams in the country today, a run for their money in the on-going Coronation Cup that began yesterday in Thimphu.

The game, however, went to the much-experienced Pazaps who defeated their young opponents 90-76.  The game started on a high pace with Crackjacks taking the advantage of their agility and speed. The first quarter ended in a stalemate, 21-21.

The team, comprised of high school students, started to put more pressure on the Pazaps in the second quarter. Crackjacks began the third quarter more assertively and took a 10-point lead midway of the quarter.

With the crowd now behind the young team, Crackjacks displayed some fancy dribbling skills and passes, at times taunting their opponents. However, the lead for the young team was short-lived.

In the final quarter of the game, the experience of their opponents overwhelmed the younger side. His Royal Highness Prince Jigme Dorji Wangchuck rose to the occasion and made two consecutive three-pointers to bring down the deficit. Pazaps ended the game for Crackjacks with a difference of 14 points.

Seventeen-year-old Tobden Wangchuk of team Crackjacks, however, was not deterred by the defeat. “It was a neck and neck game. We had a really good start and we outpaced our opponents,” he said.

The class XII student said that because his team gave out “unnecessary” opportunities towards the end of the game, his team lost. “I still believe we can beat all the teams in our pool,” said Tobden Wangchuk. “This game against Pazaps was the toughest competition for us. We have a very good chance against other teams in the tournament.”

The president of the Bhutan Basketball Federation (BBF) Tokey Dorji said that the young players today are technically sound with the game. “Basketball has improved a lot over the years and many young players with talent are picking up the game,” he said.

Tokey Dorji urged all the aspiring basketball enthusiasts especially women to come forward and take up the game. “If they need any sort of assistance from us, BBF will provide all the support they need to play the game,” he said.

Meanwhile, the BBF has shifted the dates of the Coronation Cup this year to facilitate maximum participation. Tokey Dorji said that since August was an ideal time to conduct the tournament because most of the students studying abroad are in the country for vacation.

A total of 24 men’s and four women’s team are taking part in the tournament this year.

Younten Tshedup