Gopalakrishnan R & Vishnu Ravi Shankar, Hyderabad, 28th July 2015: Today marked the conclusion of the league stages of the UBA Indian Pro Basketball League 2015 that is underway at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad. In the semifinals tomorrow, Chennai Slam (Group A toppers) will face off against Punjab Steelers (Group B second seeds) while Haryana Gold (Group B toppers) will take on Pune Peshwas (Group A second seeds).
Along the sporting entertainment, the crowd was treated to a brief halftime performance by actor and singer Ali Quli Mirza, who was in attendance for the second game. “I’m really excited to be here because I used to play basketball in college”, Mirza said. Addressing the young students in the audience, Mirza asked them to dream big, for they could be playing in the UBA league in the future.
Delhi Capitals v. Mumbai Challengers
This has been a forgettable tournament for Mumbai Challengers, still searching for a face saving win after losing all its previous five games. On the other hand, it could be argued that Delhi Capitals has been unlucky having lost two games by single digits. Despite their contrasting journeys, both teams are already out of contention for semi-final spots coming into this game.
In terms of intensity, the match resembled more of a pickup game atmosphere at Siri fort, New Delhi. That said, Delhi Capitals still had enough firepower through their second unit of Rachit, Ali, Aaditya Vikram Singh, Dheeraj Rawat and Ayush along with sole starter Yudhvir Dahiya to build a 49-22 lead at halftime. Small forward Rachit Singh delighted with his drives to the basket, while guard combo of Ayush and Ali converted defense to offense with easy transition buckets.
Mumbai’s defense continued to be lacking by allowing yet another opponent to score almost 25 points per quarter. Mumbai settled far too easily for outside jumpshots, but on this night, tournament top scorer Karan Pal Singh was unable to connect at an efficient rate. The final result was never in doubt, as Delhi Capitals clinched their third win to end this Championship on a positive note. Mumbai will need to regroup for the next season.
Punjab Steelers v. Haryana Gold
Unlike the previous match today, Punjab Steelers vs Haryana Gold was one of extremely high stakes. The winner would be seeded first in the group and face Pune Peshwas in the semis, while the loser would be up against Chennai Slam, which is the top seeded team in the other group.
In their last head to head, Haryana Gold came out on top thanks to a monster performance by undersized centre Rakesh. Both teams feature current senior international campers, Gurvinder Gill from Punjab, and Vikas Kumar and Himanshu Sharma from Haryana Gold. True to their stature, these players would rise to the occasion. Haryana’s seasoned shooting guard Birender Singh continued his consistent showing, converting both his three pointers in his eight points in total. The first quarter ended with Haryana on top, leading 27-16.
Surprisingly, Punjab played international Gurwinder Gill for only 12 minutes in the entire match. In his absence, Haryana’s centre Rakesh Kumar dominated yet again in his spectacular 26 points and 20 rebound performance. With his quick footwork, excellent anticipation and relentless pursuit of the basketball, Rakesh once again impressed despite his lack of size down low. For Punjab, forward Ravi Bhardwaj plugged away despite his team falling behind by as many as 34 points at one time.
Such was Haryana’s dominance that it held the lead for the entire duration of the game. At halftime Haryana was sitting pretty at 56-23, and by third quarter led by a whopping 31 points, at 80-49. Haryana led in almost all statistical categories, be it points in the paint, points from turnovers, second chance opportunities (33 points scored as against 16 for Punjab).
As the top seeded side from the group, Haryana will now face the other group’s second placed Pune Peshwas team in the semifinals, while Punjab Steelers will have their work cut out against Chennai Slam.
|Chennai Slam 4-2 (+35)||Haryana Gold 5-1 (+65)|
|Pune Peshwas 3-3 (-6)||Punjab Steelers 4-2 (+11)|
|Bengaluru Beast 3-3 (-10)||Delhi Capitals 3-3 (+55)|
|Hyderabad Sky 2-4 (-20)||Mumbai Challengers 0-6 (-131)|
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.