Gopalakrishnan R & Vishnu Ravi Shankar, Hyderabad, 21st July 2015:

Hyderabad Sky v. Pune Peshwas

Sujith Reddy of Hyderabad Sky posts up against P Vijay of Pune Peshwas. Reddy would later hit the game winning shot

Sujith Reddy of Hyderabad Sky posts up against P Vijay of Pune Peshwas. Reddy would later hit the game winning shot.

In front of a raucous home crowd of hundreds of school children, Hyderabad Sky took on Pune Peshwas at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in their UBA Indian Pro Basketball League encounter. Based on their performances in the previous two games, where both teams won their first games and lost the second, this was always going to be an encounter too close to call. The teams are nearly identical in their strengths and weaknesses: a team first mentality and tough-as-nails never say die spirit.

From the opening whistle to the final buzzer, neither team held a double-digit lead. Pune was ahead by a slender margin for most of the game, but Hyderabad kept the lead within their sights and did not let the game get out of their hands. For Pune, guard Ajinkya Mane and their most consistent player Arjun Mehta piled on the points. Pune’s centre P. Vijay was also big, especially down the stretch, with crucial offensive rebounds – he finished the game with a double-double. Hyderabad’s scoring came from their frontcourt players, Sujith Reddy and Nihal Yadav. Both displayed a rough-and-tumble style of play and bullied their way to the basket and the freethrow line. Veteran Prasad from the home team continued to belie his aging body to produce his trademark behind the back passes.

The game came down to the final few minutes. With less than 30 seconds remaining for the final buzzer, and trailing by two points at 61-63, Hyderabad guard Vijay was fouled and he converted one out of his two freethrows. Pune immediately grabbed the rebound and tried to run down the game clock, but the ball was intercepted by Hyderabad’s Sri Ganesh Patil. In the ensuing scramble for possession, the ball went out of bounds and possession was awarded to Hyderabad in their offensive court. With just 3 seconds left in the game, centre Sujith Reddy converted off the glass after receiving the pass from the baseline from veteran guard Prasad, to take Hyderabad up 65-64. In the excitement of the last second play, Hyderabad Sky Coach made the rookie mistake of stepping onto the court when there was still 1.3 seconds remaining. A technical foul was called against him giving Pune a chance to tie the game with a solitary freethrow. However, Ajinkya Mane missed the crucial shot to give Hyderabad the last gasp win, much to the delight of the crowds in attendance.

Hyderabad Sky (Sujith Reddy 16, Shiv Khoiwal 15, Nihal Yadav 12) bt Pune Peshwas (Arjun Mehta 15, Ajinkya Mane 12, P Vijay 11) 64-63 (19-15, 11-14, 15-22, 19-12)

Bengaluru Beast v. Chennai Slam

Ramkumar of Chennai Slam (seen here inbounding the ball) proved to be an impact performer for his side

Ramkumar of Chennai Slam (seen here inbounding the ball) proved to be an impact performer for his side.

A resurgent Chennai Slam side continued their new-found winning ways defeating Bengaluru Beast in the second game today 72-67. Chennai is now sitting pretty on top of Group A. It was a game of two halves as Bengaluru Beast got off to a hot start on the back of aggressive play from their star point guard TJ Sahi. Bengaluru also held their own on the defensive end, restricting Chennai to just 24 points in the first half.  Nigerian point guard Chukwunanu Agu was rendered largely ineffective in the first twenty minutes as Chennai struggled from midrange and beyond the arc.

For Bengaluru, easy offense was generated through transition. Skinny guard Chethan was opportunistic in ensuring that Bengaluru kept its scoreboard ticking. Bengaluru’s reserve guard Abhishek John also continued to highly impress with his composure and decisive playmaking. The third quarter saw the inevitable fightback by the Chennai side. Employing the full court press, Chennai forced Bengaluru’s international point guard TJ Sahi into a couple of turnovers to bring Chennai back within 9 points. Sahi also majorly struggled from the freethrow line going 2 of 10.

The fourth quarter saw Chennai cut Bengaluru’s lead down further courtesy a quick layup by Agu. This was immediately followed by a couple of three pointers by all round forward Ramkumar, and just like that Chennai had a 62-59 with 3:45 mins remaining. The momentum had truly shifted to Chennai, when substitute Vicky drained two more back-breaking threes.  Bengaluru’s Kaif Zia and Yashas Ramesh were unable to convert on their attempts and it was left to John to score six points on two possessions cutting Chennai’s lead to 3 points. But Chennai held on to successfully complete their second half comeback and go on top of their group.

Chennai Slam (Ramkumar 21, Chukwunanu Agu 18, Bennette Carmel Joseph 11) bt Bengaluru Beast (TJ Sahi 21, Karan Joshua 9, Abhishek John 9) 72-67 (11-21, 13-15, 21-18, 27-13)

Standings after four days

Group A

Group B

Chennai Slam 2-1 (+18) Punjab Steelers 2-0 (+17)
Hyderabad Sky 2-1 (-1) Haryana Gold 2-0 (+10)
Bengaluru Beast 1-2 (-7) Delhi Capitals 0-2 (-12)
Pune Peshwas 1-2 (-11) Mumbai Challengers 0-2 (-15)

About the UBA Pro Basketball League

The UBA 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 for 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.  The eight teams have been divided into two groups of four each on geographical lines: Bengaluru Beast, Pune Peshwas, Chennai Slam and Hyderabad Sky in one group and Delhi Capitals, Haryana Gold, Mumbai Challengers and Punjab Steelers in the other group. Teams will play each other twice in the league rounds, and the two teams with the best records after six league matches will qualify for the semifinals.

For more information, visit: http://www.ubaindia.com/.

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.

Team Ekalavyas
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