Gopalakrishnan R & Vishnu Ravi Shankar, Hyderabad, 17th July 2015: P Vijay of the Pune Peshwas thought it would be an easy left hand layup. A free lane, no defender in sight. But just as he releases the ball onto the glass, a burst of green flies across the paint. In the blink of an eye, TJ Sahi of the Bengaluru Beast slapped the ball out of his hands into the crowd.
That announced the return of not just India’s most attention grabbing player, but also the birth of India’s first professional basketball league.
About the UBA Pro Basketball League
The UBA Indian Pro Basketball League is structured on a league cum knockout basis. The Pro League is being held between 17th to 30th July at the Gachibowli Multipurpose Indoor stadium in Hyderabad that has been specially refurbished to host this event. There are eight teams in total: Pune Peshwas, Delhi Capitals, Haryana Gold, Punjab Steelers, Chennai Slam, Mumbai Challengers, Bengaluru Beast and Hyderabad Sky. For more information, visit: http://www.ubaindia.com/.
“This is the first time in India’s basketball history that a pro league is being organised,” said UBA India Director Deepesh Solanki. “Our main focus is infrastructure. Athletes should feel like pros.” Indian film actor Anjana Sukhani was the celebrity guest on the opening day and she wished both all participating teams the very best. “I’m so happy that someone has taken the initiative to bring out the talent that this country has.” she said.
Pune Peshwas stun Bengaluru Beast
Teams from Maharashtra have always been deceptive in their appearance, with no big names to boast of. But somehow, the Peshwas kept the scoreboard ticking. The Bengaluru team had not just marquee international star TJ Sahi, but also some of the top collegiate talent in the country. Two of these players Kaif Zia and Yashas Ramesh were part of the bronze medal winning Jain University team at the UBA All India Inter University Championship earlier this year.
With its explosive backcourt of Sahi, Zia and Ramesh, Beast kept looking to push the pace of the game. Against a set Pune defence though, they were left searching for an answer. Late in the first quarter and the starting few minutes of the second saw Pune go on scoring run. Point guard 33, and forwards Vijay and Arjun pounded away at the glass to take Pune to an unexpected 31-20 lead. That was until Sahi scored back to back threes followed by a layup to bring Beast back within single digits at halftime.
In the second half the continued high rate of turnovers for Beast cost them dear, leading to multiple second chance scoring opportunities. Bengaluru was also caught napping repeatedly on defense, with Pune holding a decisive scoring advantage in the paint. However, almost replaying the action from the first half, Beast came storming back yet again only to fall just short in the end.
With this opening win, Pune Peshwas has shown that it is not to be taken lightly. Bengaluru needs to regroup quickly and find that team chemistry on both ends of the floor, which it was lacking in this below par performance.
Hyderabad Sky bt Chennai Slam
Hosts Hyderabad Sky got off to the perfect start by beating southern rivals Chennai Slam 65-61. A lethargic Chennai let the game get away from them in the first half, falling to a 22-36 deficit. The experienced Hyderabad Sky which features numerous players from the Telangana State team moved the ball well and made the most of Chennai’s largesse. In the second half, Chennai finally woke up, outscoring Hyderabad 39-29. Nigerian player Agu who was the MVP at the AIU All India Inter-University Championship two year prior, caught fire in the second half and rallied his team back within one possession. But just like Pune Peshwas in the earlier game, Hyderabad held on to register this significant opening win. Hyderabad was led in scoring by Nihal Yadav (23 points), Sujith Reddy (16 points) and Liju Abraham (15 points) who got fouled out late in the game.
Results from 17/7/2015
Pune Peshwas (P Vijay 23, Arjun Mehta 23) bt Bengaluru Beast (TJ Sahi 32, Chetan Suresh 16) 88-81 [19-18, 23-17, 29-25, 17-21]
Hyderabad Sky (Nihal Yadav 19, Sujith Reddy 16, Liju Abraham 15) bt Chennai Slam (Agu 14, Vicky 14) 65-61 [18-9, 18-13, 19-22, 10-17]
Full Tournament Schedule
About Universal Basketball Alliance of India (UBA)
The Universal Basketball Alliance of India, LLC (UBA India) is a next-generation sports branding company. Its main objective is to make sport brands mean something to their sport viewers. To do that, UBA helps brands connect with viewers by providing insight-driven ideas across all media platforms. In addition to the ongoing maiden Pro Basketball League, UBA India has acquired the broadcast, merchandise and sponsorship rights to the existing, and self-governing Indian University Basketball Program. The UBA is currently securing television broadcasting arrangements, securing corporate sponsorships for tournament play, and creating merchandising opportunities.
UBA will focus its attention on the AIU and popularizing its All India Inter Zonal Tournament as an entertainment product for Indian viewers to enjoy for generations to come, just as collegiate Basketball is in the United States.