Gopalakrishnan R & Vishnu Ravi Shankar, Hyderabad, 30th July 2015: After thirteen days of enthralling basketball action at India’s first ever professional basketball league, only two teams remained in contention for the winner’s trophy. Chennai Slam and Pune Peshwas, both from the southern division, took on each other in a battle for gold at the UBA Pro Basketball League 2015 in front of a capacity crowd at Gachibowli stadium, Hyderabad.
Chennai Slam crowned champs
The finalists had faced each other twice in the league stages and split the games at 1-1. The last game was a testy encounter with two players from each team getting ejected in the final minutes. Familiar with each other’s games, this final match was expected to be a thrilling hard-fought encounter. Pune Peshwas starting lineup included Nitin Chopade and Ajinkya Mane in the backcourt and the Mehta brothers, Ajinkya and Arjun in the frontcourt along with centre P. Vijay. For Chennai, the starting lineup was unchanged from the semifinal game with Nigerian Chukwunanu Agu and Bernette Carmel Joseph in the backcourt, while Ramkumar, captain Aditya Biswas and Vignesh Muralinath made up the frontcourt.
Uncharacteristically, the usually tidy Pune team started the game sloppy and the nerves of a playing in a big tournament final showed on some of their players. Their scoring came in patches with centre P. Vijay putting up the initial shots in the paint for Pune. The Chennai players, on the other hand, showed that they belonged on the big stage. Sticking with the starting lineup for the entire first half, Chennai scored with ease on the back of quality ball movement. Transition buckets came in bunches as Chennai clamped down on the defensive end with strong man-to-man defense. Their star player, Agu delighted the crowd with beautiful athletic drives to the basket and some deep threes. He had another all-round game with 22 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals.
The Peshwas lacked adequate control over the ball with their guards repeatedly turning the ball over once they entered their offensive half. Their go-to guard Ajinkya Mane had an off day scoring only 2 of 10 from the field and ending up with just 4 points. Pune captain Arjun Mehta was also off colour today having more turnovers than points in the game.
By halftime, Chennai were up by 14 points. People who were expecting a comeback from Pune were left disappointed. The Peshwas managed only 9 points in the third quarter and by that time, it felt like there was no gas left in their tank. Chennai forward Ramkumar and swingman Carmel Joseph kept plugging away on the offensive end, getting easy transition buckets and sinking open jumpers. Pune tried mixing up their lineup but nothing seemed to work as they just could not stop the Chennai onslaught. In the end, Chennai won by a whopping 32-point margin and secured gold in the inaugural UBA Pro Basketball League 2015.
Prize Distribution Ceremony
Actor Vidyut Jamwal was present for the entire game and distributed the medals to the players during the prize distribution ceremony. Also present were senior UBA executives such as Tommy Fisher (major UBA shareholder and President and CEO of USA-based construction company Fisher Industries), Richard Whelan, Sunday Zeller (Founders and Co-CEOs, UBA), Tausif Sheikh (Managing Director, UBA India) and Deepesh Solanki (CEO, UBA India). Other dignitaries for the final match included noted artists from the Telengana film fraternity.
Winners Chennai Slam were awarded with a cash prize of INR 7 lakhs along with their gold medals. First runners up Pune Peshwas secured the silver medals and a cash prize of INR 3 lakhs. Haryana Gold won the 2nd runners up trophy owing to their superior league stage record over the Punjab Steelers. The MVP of the tournament was Punjab Steelers forward Ravi Bhardwaj, who put up consistent numbers throughout the tournament. He won a Hyosung GTR superbike along with the MVP trophy.
UBA CEO Deepesh Solanki announced an all-star team from the tournament, which included the following players: TJ Sahi and Karan Joshua (Bengaluru Beast); Chukwunanu Agu, Ramkumar and Bernette Carmel Joseph (Chennai Slam); Birender Singh, Vikas Kumar and Rakesh Sangwan (Haryana Gold); Sartaj Sandhu and Ravi Bhardwaj (Punjab Steelers); Karan Pal Singh (Mumbai Challengers); P. Vijay, Ajinkya Mehta and Ajinkya Mane (Pune Peshwas); Yudhvir Dahiya, Arsh Deep Saini and Aaditya Raj (Delhi Capitals); and Nihal Yadav and Sujith Reddy of Hyderabad Sky.
The above players will be awarded 1-year professional playing contracts totally worth $100,000. Each individual player contract shall be worth $5,000, out of which $4,000 will be the player’s salary and the remaining will cover the expenses on gear and other training equipment.
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.