The open basketball tournament in Trashigang had everyone at the edge of their seats until the final whistle of the 20th game.

The 19th match of the tournament saw a very physical match between team Zhongar from Mongar and Drasindra from Rangjung in Trashigang. The team from Mongar defeated Drasindra 69-43 yesterday.

Many assumed that the win was enough for Zhongar to secure the first position. However, the team was denied when another team from Mongar, FI-Mongar, defeated team Brotherhood from Trashigang with 79-40 in the final game of the tournament yesterday.

With three wins out of four for both the teams, the decision went in favour of team FI-Mongar based on the scores made and received in the four games.

However, the game between team Zhongar and team Drasindra was the highlight of the tournament.

Even before the game began, expectations were high as both the teams were considered the toughest teams in the tournament. With two wins from three games each, another win would have kept the chances of winning the tournament alive for either of the teams.

As expected, the match started at a higher pace with both teams looking for quick baskets. The team from Rangjung managed to get three early baskets in the first quarter of the game while Zhongar was still struggling to settle in the game.

Few miss-passes and lack of coordination gave Drasindra the opening.

Zhongar, on the other hand, tried to close the gap with some quick breaks and managed to level the game with just a half-basket behind at the end of the quarter.

The second quarter saw the game become more physical. Intercepting each other’s passes with some rough defense, players on either side received fouls. However, Drasindra managed to hold on to its lead at the end of the second quarter.

With just four minutes into the third quarter, three players from team Drasindra made their fourth foul and another player got his third foul. The team came under pressure, as some of their key players were in foul trouble (third and fourth fouls) with more than six minutes in the third quarter.

Team Zhongar capitalised on the situation, as their opponents were technically restricted. Zhongar fought back from three and a half baskets behind to take the lead (35-39) at the end of the third quarter.

It was only a matter of time when Drasindra’s players were fouled out. Within two minutes into the final quarter, Drasindra’s Karma Nidup was fouled-out. Another player, Ugyen Dorji was also fouled-out after five minutes into the final quarter.

The remaining five minutes of the match was a one-sided game with Zhongar dominating. With fancy moves and at times almost taunting Drasindra, Zhongar went on to win the game with a difference of 26 points. Zhongar’s skipper, Tshewang Rigzin (Bolo) scored the highest points in the game.

One of the players, Sonam Tobgay, said that although not as popular as archery and other indigenous games, a lot of youth are taking up basketball in Trashigang.

He said that with the establishment of the indoor basketball court in the dzongkhag, many local youth have picked up the game.

However, he said lack of finance and limited officials with technical know-how restricted people from taking part in large numbers during tournaments.

The organiser of the tournament, Ngawang Gyeltshen, said that if such tournaments were financially supported by agencies concerned, the participation would increase. “With a limited budget, the prize money is less and not many teams take part in it as the cost of travel is sometimes more than what you receive as a prize.”

He said that it was mostly through donation that he was able to collect enough money to conduct the tournament.

“We could not bring in referees because the budget was already limited,” he said. “Most of the donation were made by private companies and some were collected through entry fees.”

A total of five teams from Trashigang, Mongar and Trashiyangtse took part in the two-day tournament that ended yesterday.

The tournament was organised to commemorate the birth anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.   

Younten Tshedup   | Trashigang