*Report by Vishnu Ravi Shankar & images by Dulon Kharsati; with inputs from Gopalakrishnan R.
Pune, 24th February 2016: Day 7 of United Basketball Alliance (UBA) Pro Basketball League Season 2 action concluded today with young Delhi Capitals (3-0) and Bengaluru Beast (2-1) teams winning cross division games against Hyderabad Sky and Mumbai Challengers, both of which feature experienced players.
Hindi film actor Ameesha Patel and TV celebrity/stylist Imam Siddique were the special guests on the occasion. “I never thought I’d be dancing in a basketball stadium! But good luck to all the teams and thank you for having us here. It’s been a pleasure.” said Ms Patel, before attempting to make a basket from inside the freethrow line.
“I’d like to congratulate the entire team [of UBA] for putting together such a wonderful platform for emerging talent in India at the grassroots level. Sport is easily the finest form of art for me because I am from a sporting family- my father was a hockey player.” said Mr Siddique.
Delhi Capitals bt Hyderabad Sky
The second cross-division game today was between the Delhi Capitals and Hyderabad Sky. Both teams have had very different runs so far this season. While the Capitals are high on confidence, entering the game unbeaten, the Hyderabad Sky are still searching for their first win in Season 2.
Delhi picked up from where they left off in the previous game. Right from tip-off, Delhi went all guns blazing. Relying on ball movement and a balanced scoring effort, the Capitals piled on the points in the first half. The first half saw the entire Delhi roster getting playing time and each one of them getting on the scoreboard. Hyderabad Sky managed to score only 16 points in the entire first half. Delhi held fort on the defensive end and played great defense on Sky’s best players. Sky did not manage to get any offensive rhythm going in the game, as their point guard Joginder found it difficult to create space for his jumpshot or create anything through penetration. Sky’s Indo-Australian guard Mahesh Padmanabhan top scored again for his team with 14 points, but it was just not enough against the dominant Capitals side.
On the defensive end, Hyderabad Sky posed little resistance to Delhi’s players. With the coaches going entirely to their bench, Delhi kept switching five players at a time in the game. Ajay Singh was the top scorer for his team off the bench with 13 points, including three 3-pointers, and was awarded the player of the match. Vinay Kaushik got to double digits again for the Capitals with 10 points. Delhi has now won all their 3 games so far, while Hyderabad is yet to register a victory this season.
Delhi Capitals (Ajay Singh 13, Vinay Kaushik 10, Arshdeep Singh 10) bt Hyderabad Sky (Mahesh Padmanabhan 14, Joginder Singh 9) 93-64 (20-8, 26-8, 21-22, 26-26)
Bengaluru Beast bt Mumbai Challengers
After a day’s gap, action got underway again at the UBA Pro Basketball league Season 2 with a couple of cross-division games. The first match of the day was between the unbeaten Mumbai Challengers side and Bengaluru Beast, who have won their last two games and inching to the top of the table.
The contrasting styles of the two teams were clear from the start. The Challengers are a slower team that prefers the half-court style of play, while Beast is filled with young legs who can run all game. Beast also got back the services of their first-choice point guard Raghuram today against the Challengers. The break from UBA action seemed to have helped him, as he was on fire right out of the gates. His efficiency was through the roof, connecting on almost all his shots in the first quarter. For the Challengers, it was centre Gagandeep with the buckets, using his body and size in the paint. But Bengaluru’s fast paced style of play was too much to handle for the Challengers as they conceded a 13-point lead to the Beast in the first quarter.
Bengaluru used the same script throughout the game, pushing the tempo at every opportunity they got. The Beast coaches used almost their entire roster, going 11-deep in the contest. With the coaches ensuring that there were fresh legs on the floor at all times, the Beast youngsters were given the green light to run and gun. Challengers’ transition defense could not match the speed of Bengaluru’s offense. Beast players were getting their shots off even before the Mumbai defense could settle.
At the fulcrum of the Beast team was Raghuram, who was scorching today from the inside and outside. Whether it was crafty drives to the rim, knocking down open jumpers or creating for his teammates, Raghuram showcased everything today to lead his side in scoring with 28 points. His teammate big man Manpreet (18 points) was consistent again with his shooting, knocking down his mid-range jumpers throughout the game. Bengaluru’s deep rotation ensured balanced contribution from multiple players. Beast forward Hrishikesh Naidu (12 points) was an offensive spark off the bench, even knocking down an unexpected 3-pointer and getting an offensive putback.
For the Challengers, forward Jagdeep Bains had an off day, managing only 5 points in the game. Poor rotation from the Challengers hurt them and their fatigue led to sloppy turnovers. Bengaluru played tenacious defense with their active hands pestering the Challengers and helping their team convert defense to easy transition buckets. Beast guard Visu Palani was the recipient of a few of those easy buckets, as he finished with 15 points on 7 of 8 shooting.
Bengaluru had a 20-plus point lead at one stage of the game. However, late in the fourth, the Challengers fought hard to come back into the game, even cutting the lead down to 8 points with under five minutes left. But a late 3-pointer by Raghuram sealed the deal for the Beast, who have now won three games in a row and are one of the hottest teams in the league right now. Raghuram was deservedly awarded the man of the match and a cash prize of INR 25,000.
Bengaluru Beast (Raghuram 28, Manpreet 20, Visu Palani 15) bt Mumbai Challengers (Gagandeep Singh 31, Nikhil 11, Karan Pal Singh 10) 99-84 (25-12, 23-23, 23-18, 28-31)
About the UBA Pro Basketball League
The UBA Pro Basketball League is structured on a league cum knockout basis. Season 2 is being held in two phases: 18 to 28 Feb in Pune followed by 21st March to 3rd April in Hyderabad. There are eight teams in total divided into two divisions: Pune Peshwas, Delhi Capitals, Haryana Gold, Punjab Steelers (North division) and Chennai Slam, Mumbai Challengers, Bengaluru Beast and Hyderabad Sky (South division). Chennai Slam won the inaugural season last year with Pune Peshwas finishing second.
About United Basketball Alliance India Pvt. Ltd.
The United Basketball Alliance (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. With respect to its Pro Basketball League, UBA India has already secured primetime television broadcasting arrangements with the Ten Sports Network, and is securing corporate sponsorships for the league, and creating merchandising opportunities.