Hindi film actor Mugdha Godse was in attendance. Seen here receiving a bouquet from UBA Investor John Rafty.

Hindi film actor Mugdha Godse was in attendance. Seen here receiving a bouquet from UBA Investor John Rafty.

Gopalakrishnan R & Vishnu Ravi Shankar, Hyderabad, 24th July 2015: In an eventful afternoon of matches during the UBA India Pro Basketball League 2015, Delhi Capitals stunned the undefeated Haryana Gold, while Punjab Steelers outclassed Mumbai Challengers yet again. Special guests John Rafty, a UBA investor and Hindi Film actor Mugdha Godse graced the occasion. “I was into basketball back in school, and I really look forward to you guys playing today,” said Ms Godse, who arrived prior to the tip-off of the second match between Punjab and Mumbai.

Delhi Capitals v. Haryana Gold

Coming off an emphatic blowout victory in their last game against Mumbai Challengers, Delhi Capitals were confident entering their game against the undefeated Haryana Gold today. Their last head to head ended with a thrilling 1-point last gasp victory for Haryana.

Delhi Capitals' Rachit with a strong drive to the basket against Haryana Gold.

Delhi Capitals’ Rachit with a strong drive to the basket against Haryana Gold.

Today’s return leg game started out in similar fashion, with the teams picking up from where they left off. Delhi changed their starting lineup, going smaller with guard Aaditya Raj in place of forward Aaditya Vikram Singh. This move immediately paid dividends for the Capitals as Aaditya knocked down a couple of 3-pointers in the first quarter. Delhi’s Pravin also provided a spark with some acrobatic layups. But Haryana matched punch for punch and the first quarter ended at 17-17.

Haryana’s most consistent player thus far Birender Singh was largely quiet in the first half. Guard Vikas Mor and centre Rakesh provided Gold with the much needed scoring to keep pace with Delhi. Rakesh and forward Abhishek held down the fort on the defensive end as well with some emphatic blocks. Delhi held on to a slim lead at halftime leading 37-33.

The third quarter had both teams with evenly matched scoring 18-17 in favour of the Capitals. The only undefeated team in this tournament thus far, Haryana, was in no mood to give up its unblemished record so easily. Q4 began with Haryana on a scoring run to tie the game at 55-55 with under two minutes of play.

The two teams have virtually identical scrappy style of play, and it came down to whichever team could execute better and keep their composure in the last few minutes. The game continued to be close until the very end. With under a minute left to play and Haryana up by 1 point, 70-69, Pravin from the Capitals made his way to the freethrow line to make 1 of 2 and tying the game. Haryana was not able to convert a bunny in the ensuing possession and half a minute left in the game, Capitals’ point guard Sachin Sharma nailed a huge 3-pointer to put his team ahead. Haryana failed to convert on the final possession of the game and Delhi hung on to clinch the upset victory and hand Haryana their first loss of the tournament.

Delhi Capitals (Pravin 18, Aaditya Raj 15, Yudhvir Dahiya 14) bt Haryana Gold (Rakesh 20, Birender Singh 17, Vikas 15) 74-70 (17-17, 20-16, 18-17, 19-20)

Punjab Steelers v. Mumbai Challengers

Punjab Steelers centre Gurvinder Gill rises up against the shorter Mumbai Challengers team.

Punjab Steelers centre Gurvinder Gill rises up against the shorter Mumbai Challengers team.

Mumbai Challengers entered the second game of the day still searching for their first win of the tournament. Up against the formidable Punjab Steelers, Mumbai shook off their tournament woes to start the game strong and keep pace with the Punjab offense.

For the first three quarters, the game was close, with neither team taking a significant lead. Mumbai’s best scorer Karan Pal Singh piled up the points for his team scoring from inside and outside. He ended up top scoring the game with 40 points. But his inefficient field goal percentage hurt his team, as they had little ball movement in the game. Mumbai’s other go-to frontcourt player, Raj Kalbhor, had an off day against the taller Punjab defense, going 3 of 13 from the field and finishing with only 6 points.

For the Steelers, Ravi Bhardwaj used his size to bulldoze his way to the basket. Coupled with international forward Gurvinder Gill, they ended up giving Punjab a massive rebounding advantage. Ravi ended up with a huge double-double in this game with 27 points and 21 rebounds, while Gill put up a double-double of his own with 15 points and 15 rebounds.

Ravi Bhardwaj of Punjab Steelers, who recorded a double double.

Ravi Bhardwaj of Punjab Steelers, who recorded a double double.

The fourth quarter belonged to Punjab as they pushed their game to another gear, outscoring Mumbai 35 to 20. Punjab’s Sartaj Sandhu, who sustained a gash above his left eye in the game, had to leave midway in the second and third quarters. But he came back in the fourth to lift his team, ending up with 23 points in the game. In the end, Punjab picked up a comfortable win and moved to the top of the table in their group.

Punjab Steelers (Ravi Bhardwaj 27, Sartaj Sandhu 23, Gurvinder Gill 15) bt Mumbai Challengers (Karan Pal Singh 40, Arif Mohammad 18) 100-83 (19-18, 18-19, 28-26, 35-20)

Current Standings

Group A

Group B

Chennai Slam 3-1 (+32) Punjab Steelers 3-1 (+26)
Bengaluru Beast 2-2 (-6) Haryana Gold 3-1 (+14)
Hyderabad Sky 2-2 (-15) Delhi Capitals 2-2 (+37)
Pune Peshwas 1-3 (-12) Mumbai Challengers 0-4 (-77)

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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