From jaw dropping dunks, to smooth alley oops and creative layups, the All-Star basketball match on March 18 had it all.

The Swimming Pool Complex in Thimphu was filled to capacity to witness the first ever All-Star game in the country. But more than the game, the excitement was for the three complementary contests: the 3-point shoot out, and the dunk and freestyle layup contests.

The contest had the audience on their feet the whole time. Over the years, basketball in the country has evolved and on Saturday, the All-Star game was another milestone in the game’s evolution in Bhutan.

Much to the surprise of the spectators, a handful of players pulled off some of the most stupendous dunks that left many on the edge of their seats. A two-handed dunk by Chundu of team RBA could not be matched by his competitors.

In the 3-point shootout, the nimble Lhendup D Dorjey bagged the Nu 2,000 prize. In the freestyle layup contest, Jigme Yonten from Jumpers was unanimously declared the winner for his reverse layup.

Of the 10 clubs participating in the on-going Pepsi A-League, two players from each team competed in the All-Star game. Team-A consisting of two players each from Wizards, Phojas, RBA, Drukpas and Effects defeated Team-B –Thimphu Magics, Jachungs, Pazaps, Jumpers and Jaguars – 77-60.

The main event of the day was an equally matched game with the elite players in the country battling out for supremacy. However, it seemed that there was no pressure on the players to win the competition, as the game was more of an exhibition of individual skills than the final score.

Nevertheless, the game managed to entertain the spectators with some remarkable moves and at times with a few funny moments. Jamyang Namgyel of Team-A from Wizards made 16 points, the highest in the game. With 11 rebounds, Karma Wangchuk of Thimphu Magics pulled down the most rebounds. He was also declared the MVP (most valuable player) of the match.

The highest number of steals in the game came from Kesang Phuntsho (Phojas) of Team-A with seven.

Jamyang Namgyel made the highest number of assists during the game with seven.

The climax of the day however came when an eight-year-old student won the open free-throw contest. Kinley Wangyel, a class II student of Changangkha middle secondary school shot a series of baskets to win a pair of Nike basketball shoes.

Younten Tshedup