Gopalakrishnan R & Vishnu Ravi Shankar, Hyderabad, 26th July 2015:

Delhi Capitals v. Punjab Steelers

Punjab Steelers' Sartaj Sandhu drives to the basket during the win against Delhi Capitals.

Punjab Steelers’ Sartaj Sandhu drives to the basket during the win against Delhi Capitals.

Coming off back-to-back wins, Delhi Capitals entered today’s game hungry to continue their win streak against the Punjab Steelers. Despite Punjab’s big frontcourt, Delhi continued their 3-guard starting lineup from the previous game. Each team played to their strengths, with Punjab relying on their international forward Gurvinder Gill and the talented Ravi Bhardwaj. Steelers’ point guard Kuldeep Singh provided additional impetus with some timely jumpers including a 3-point buzzer-beater to end the first quarter.

For the Capitals, Aaditya Raj was hot in the first quarter, connecting repeatedly from deep. Good ball movement served Delhi well, orchestrated by their experienced point guard Sachin Sharma. Undersized Delhi forward Yudhvir Dahiya and centre Arshdeep put themselves in good positions to score for their team and the first half was close ending with Punjab up 39 to 36.

The second half was an up-and-down affair with multiple lead changes. Steelers’ Sartaj Sandhu came alive in the third quarter with some strong drives to the basket. But Delhi kept themselves within reach of Punjab on the back of good play by guard Pravin Dovan and forward Yudhvir Dahiya. Down 8 points entering the fourth, Delhi went on a mini run to take a slim 1-point lead in the game. But Punjab pushed into another gear with under five minutes left in the game. Punjab point guard and the game’s top scorer Kuldeep hit some big transition buckets off good defense and Gurvinder Gill’s and-1 bucket in the final minutes punctuated Punjab’s victory. The Steelers remain in the top two teams in the northern division and book a place in the semifinals.

Punjab Steelers (Kuldeep Singh 28, Sartaj Sandhu 19, Gurvinder Gill 9) bt Delhi Capitals (Aaditya Raj 19, Pravin Dovan 12, Yudhvir Dahiya 15) 78-69 (22-14, 17-22, 25-20, 14-13)

Haryana Gold v. Mumbai Challengers

Double team - Vikas and Birender (foreground) guard Mumbai's primary scorer Karan Pal Singh.

Double team – Vikas and Birender (foreground) guard Mumbai’s primary scorer Karan Pal Singh.

A jaded Mumbai Challengers team, already out of contention for a semifinal spot, seems to have no fight left. With a 0-4 record, Mumbai has only pride to play for. But against a seasoned Haryana Gold side playing as a cohesive unit, Mumbai simply didn’t have enough firepower on both ends of the floor to make this a serious contest. Mumbai shooting guard Karan Pal Singh top scored yet again, but his regular 30+ point scoring, like in the previous games, did little to change the outcome of the contest. Mumbai was also missing the services of forward Raj Kalbhor, who is an efficient slasher, with the ability to get to the rim. Mumbai perhaps should have a rethink of strategy in terms of its overreliance on Karan Pal Singh to create offense, and get their second unit to contribute to the points tally. Karan Pal should also work on becoming a better leader of his side as he could be seen openly criticising the referees and even his coach for benching him in the third quarter. Mumbai point guard Arif connected repeatedly from downtown, including a couple of uncommon banked threes to contribute to the offensive load with 19 points.

But beyond Mumbai Challengers’ repeated failings, the night belonged once again to Haryana Gold, which returned to the top of the group with this dominant 100-73 win, tying Punjab for the highest score in the tournament thus far. The ease of today’s game allowed Haryana to test its bench strength, with as many as 11 players getting minutes on court. Notable among the substitutes, was the performance of guard Vaibhav, who delighted with his craftiness and court vision, which included a lovely behind the back assist to his streaking teammate Birender in transition. Haryana has sealed a berth in the semifinals by moving to the top of their group.

Haryana Gold (Vikas Mor 24, Rakesh 14, Birender 13) bt Mumbai Challengers (Karan Pal Singh 31, Arif Mohammad 19, Harshal Parab 5) 100-73 (24-16, 25-17, 29-18, 22-22)

Current Standings*

Group A

Group B

Chennai Slam 3-2 (+27) Haryana Gold 4-1 (+41)
Bengaluru Beast 3-2 (-2) Punjab Steelers 4-1 (+35)
Pune Peshwas 2-3 (-7) Delhi Capitals 2-3 (+28)
Hyderabad Sky 2-3 (-19) Mumbai Challengers 0-5 (-104)

* 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.

Team Ekalavyas
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