Gopalakrishnan R & Vishnu Ravi Shankar, Hyderabad, 25th July 2015: The ninth day of the UBA India Pro Basketball League 2015, continued its tradition of closely fought games from week one. But beyond the action on the floor, the Gachibowli Stadium was also delighted to host chief guests Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, veteran actor Mukesh Khanna, best known by his on screen ‘Shaktimaan’ persona and Chak De India actor Vidya Malvade.
Speaking to Mr Naqvi, broadcaster Paul Crane described the initiatives undertaken by UBA, which includes the All India University Championship earlier this year, and the ongoing Pro Basketball League, to which Mr Naqvi replied by calling it “historic” and “memorable”.
“I think it is a good start. In India cricket is the only sport that is promoted, but now there are other sports coming up like tennis, badminton, kho kho and kabaddi as well. I always tell kids that cricket is not your only option, go outside and play whatever sport you want,” said Actor Mukesh Khanna. “India has the largest number of youth in the world. But just being largest in number isn’t enough, they need to be strong.”
A little later, Bollywood Actor Vidya Malvade entered the arena and was completely engrossed in the second match between Pune Peshwas and Chennai Slam. “Everybody knows me only for the Chak De India film,” she said, “But I’m also a yoga instructor, I do gymnastics and dance. Sport is a very spiritual zone for me. UBA is doing a phenomenal job, the crowd is so supportive.”
Bengaluru Beast v. Hyderabad Sky
It was clear that after their heated previous encounter, the return leg of Bengaluru Beast v. Hyderabad would be just as closely fought. In this back and forth game, the match began with the hosts Hyderabad going on a scoring run, thanks to talented young guard Sri Ganesh Patil. Veteran point guard Prasad continued to impress with his seasoned playmaking. For Bengaluru small forward Kaif Zia and power forward Karan Joshua did the bulk of the initial scoring. Hyderabad Sky led 19-14 at the end of the first period.
Q2 began with Bengaluru going small, replacing centre Varun with super substitute Abhishek John. John though, perhaps getting a bit carried away with his outside shooting from earlier games, was guilty of taking too many quick shots as against setting up his teammates. Bengaluru still managed to outscore Sky 21-13 in this period to lead 35-32 at the halftime break.
The third quarter saw ex international guard TJ Sahi connect twice from downtown and was supplemented by guard Chethan who came off the bench. Hyderabad Sky’s mercurial centre Sujith Reddy, lost his cool at the referee and was ejected. Senior guard Liju Abraham valiantly tried to keep his side afloat with some late scoring, but Bengaluru held on to beat Hyderabad for the second straight time.
Pune Peshwas v. Chennai Slam
Chennai Slam may have been hoping to coast through this match against the bottom placed Pune Peshwas. But such is the unpredictability of the game of basketball, and especially in the packed southern group, that Pune Peshwas led by as many as 20 points at halftime. A completely loose Chennai Slam team was going through the motions, and Peshwas, desperate for a win to stay in contention for the semifinals, made the most of their opponent’s largesse. Pune Peshwas centre P Vijay, who celebrated his birthday earlier this week, punctuated his side’s intent with a monster two handed dunk in transition.
Leading 66-51 going into the fourth quarter, Pune Peshwas were sitting pretty when Chennai Slam finally woke up to make a match of things. A miraculous 12-0 run followed for Chennai, bringing them with one possession of Pune with 4:08 mins remaining for the final buzzer. That’s when things started to get out of hand for both teams.
With under 30 seconds remaining in the match, and Pune up by three points, Pune’s Ajinkya was fouled by Chennai’s Bopanna. Ajinkya retaliated by throwing the ball against Vignesh. A melee followed with the Chennai team rushing onto the court, as the referees tried to separate the players. Ultimately, two players from each side were ejected from the game: Ajinkya and Arjun from Pune Peshwas; and Bopanna and Vignesh from Chennai Slam. An additional technical foul was called against Chennai Coach Ram Kumar for entering the court.
After cancelling out the two technical fouls of both teams, Pune’s Mane calmly converted three clutch freethrows to take his side to a crucial 76-73 win.
|Chennai Slam 3-2 (+27)||Punjab Steelers 3-1 (+26)|
|Bengaluru Beast 3-2 (-2)||Haryana Gold 3-1 (+14)|
|Pune Peshwas 2-3 (-7)||Delhi Capitals 2-2 (+37)|
|Hyderabad Sky 2-3 (-19)||Mumbai Challengers 0-4 (-77)|
* Note: The standings are based on each team’s win-loss record and point differential only.
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.