A Sri Lanka player (in
yellow) and a Hong Kong
player (in pink) battle
for a rebound during
their semi-finals match
BT/ Yee Chun Leong
Everything went according to script.
Sri Lanka are through to the final of the 8th Asian Youth Netball Championships after storming to a 70-28 win over Hong Kong in the semi-finals yesterday.
The runners-up in the previous edition led from start to finish at the Indoor Stadium of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas.
It will be a replay of the final from the last edition as they take on defending champions Malaysia, who beat Singapore 52-32 in the other last-four matchup, for the crown tomorrow.
Sri Lanka came out hot as they nailed their first 12 attempts from the field after five minutes into the opening period.
Hong Kong were having trouble settling into the game due to the tenacious defence by Sri Lanka and they only got on the scoreboard after more than five minutes.
Sri Lanka showcased good ball movement with quick passing to get the ball down into the goal circle and into the hands of goal scorer Thishala Agalma to score almost at will against Hong Kong's goal keeper Bridget Kriesel.
The match was pretty much one-sided at that point with Sri Lanka leading 23-8 heading into the second stanza.
Both teams resorted to their bench and Sri Lanka could afford to rest Agalma in the next 15-minute frame. It was equally matched but Sri Lanka still managed to extend their advantage to 34-17 at halftime.
Shots were hard to come by for Hong Kong and even if they did it would be from a distance inside the goal circle.
It was mostly one-way traffic in the third quarter and it was evident that Sri Lanka meant business.
They picked up the intensity on the defensive end together with an explosion on offence saw the lead balloon to 52-24 enroute to the comfortable win.
More impressively, the Sri lankan defence held their opponents scoreless for the first nine minutes.
The victors held their opponents to under 50 per cent from the field while shooting just under 80 per cent with Agalma doing the bulk of the scoring with 46 points from her 56 attempts in three periods.
Sri Lanka coach Janakie Goonesekere is in a confident mood and is hoping that her team will be able to take it all the way.
"We wanted to give our bench time to play under pressure. We managed to run some of the plays and at the same time got to rest some of our players," said Goonesekere.
"We are ready for the final and we are looking to put up a good fight. We are aiming to win the championship and not thinking about revenge. We will go all out and may the better team win," added the coach, who is in her first year heading the Sri Lanka national under-21 squad.
"I think that both teams are equally matched and hopefully we will be able to achieve our target to finish at the top," continued Goonesekere.
The final is scheduled to tip off at 1.30pm tomorrow.
The third-place playoff between Hong Kong and Singapore will take place at 9.30am.-Yee Chun Leong