Sri Lanka’s wonder girl Lubna swears she’ll be back | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka’s wonder girl Lubna swears she’ll be back

5 June, 2021
Lubna Morseth battling against the USA at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Argentina
Lubna Morseth battling against the USA at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Argentina

Sri Lanka were without one of their star performers in 19-year-old Lubna Morseth during the FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Basketball Tournament held in Austria, but the girl prodigy is determined to return to the fold after seeing her team lose all matches.

Playing in Pool C, Sri Lanka lost to Belarus (22-4), Netherlands (22-3), Estonia (22-6) and Hungary (22-9).

The former Lyceum International School, Wattala basketball star is still recuperating from a back injury suffered during national pool training two months ago.

“I was in the national pool but a week before selections I got a back injury and had to back off. I don’t know what really happened.

“I have been training since last year but when it came to selections, I could not really perform at my best. That was upsetting for me,” said Lubna who made her international debut when she was just 14 in the U-18 FIBA Asia basketball championship in Bangkok, Thailand in 2016.

“I am still doing exercises to recover. I have almost recovered. Hopefully I will be back on court soon,” said Lubna who was one of the youngest players to represent Sri Lanka.

An outstanding athlete and netball star, the high point of Lubna’s career came in 2018 when she represented Sri Lanka at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Lying 32nd in the world U-18 women’s rankings and eighth in Asia, Sri Lanka upset Egypt 17-15 in their Pool B opener on their debut appearance at the Games. Lubna was Sri Lanka’s top scorer with seven points and also collected 11 rebounds. She also has fond memories of playing against basketball giants USA in the second game which they lost 21-8.

She lived up to billing as a basketball prodigy by helping Sri Lanka to win a silver medal in the 3x3 format at the 13th South Asian Games in Kathmandu, Nepal in 2019 before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought her blossoming career to a halt.

The second child in a family of three, Fathima Lubna Mehthab Morseth displayed natural talent when it came to sports though initially following her elder sister Ashifa to play basketball. She fell in love with it instantly and honed her dribbling and shooting skills to rise above her peers in the sport.

Winner of the Netball Queen award twice at the Inter-International Schools tournaments, she also set new meet records in the shot putt and javelin throw at the ISAC (International Schools Athletic Championships). But she was attracted to basketball excelling as a Point Guard displaying tenacity in defence though being equally adept at finding the basket.

“Basketball is my favourite. I started playing it in grade four. I liked it and continued,” recalled Lubna who was selected to the senior national squad in 2017 as a reserve player before making her senior national debut at the FIBA 3X3 Asia Cup in Shenzhen, China the following year. She also went on to represent Sri Lanka at the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia where they beat Syria.

“I began playing basketball because of my sister. After that I loved the game. I figured I had the talent for it,” said Lubna who was coached by Asanga Perera and Festus Perera in school and at national level by Ajith Kuruppu and Sivashakthi Selvaraja.

Although she watches NBA games, her role model in basketball is a Romanian professional basketball player of South Korean origin Sonia Ursu-Kim. “I like her playing style,” Lubna said of Sonia who is a shooting guard.

Lubna has an ambition to play in an overseas league while studying for a university degree. “I hope to play for as long as I can. May be playing abroad as well,” said Lubna who has won multiple MVP (Most Valuable Players) awards and represented the Sri Lanka Schools team that was placed third at the Senior Nationals Basketball Championship in 2019.