While Sri Lanka goes through major political and economic crises, their sports teams are achieving considerable success. I wrote about the men’s win in the Asia Cup cricket tournament on Sunday. This news overshadowed that on the same day, their women’s team won the Asia Netball Championships, defeating Singapore 63-53 in the final.
Netball is a game played in over 80 countries, primarily by women. It is similar to basketball in that the they have a similar court and ball and hoops at each end where you score goals. It is different from basketball in that you cannot dribble or bounce the ball. The player in possession has to remain stationary, hence ball progression is achieved entirely by passing to team mates, which makes team work and accurate passing very important. It is not a game where one virtuoso player can carry the team. There are seven players on a side and physical contact between opposing players is minimal.
Players are assigned specific positions, which define their roles within the team and restrict their movement to certain areas of the court. During general play, a player with the ball can hold on to it for only three seconds before shooting for a goal or passing to another player.
Unlike the men’s win which was a surprise and against the odds, the Sri Lankan women regularly field a formidable netball team and were defending the title they won before in 2018. They won every game leading up to the final, most quite easily, and Singapore lost only one game (and that too to Sri Lanka), so the two teams were worthy finalists.
You can see the last quarter of the final game between Sri Lanka and Singapore. (The commentators were blatantly supporting the Singapore side, which was odd for an international tournament. It is true that the tournament was held in Singapore which made them the home team but still, you expect commentators to at least try for a semblance of neutrality.)
Sri Lanka had a very tall player stationed near the opponent’s goal. When she got the ball, a basket was almost certain.
In professional basketball in the US, the final two minutes of playing time in a game are often interminably long, what with repeated time outs and fouls that stop the play clock. In netball, the game does not have so many stoppages and the last quarter of 15 minutes in the final took just 16 actual minutes, which makes the game much more entertaining to watch, for me at least.