*Report by Vishnu Ravi Shankar & images by Dulon Kharsati; with inputs from Gopalakrishnan R.
Pune, 25th February 2016: Day 8 of United Basketball Alliance (UBA) Pro Basketball League Season 2 action began today with the talented Punjab Steelers finally registering their first win, over fellow North division strugglers Haryana Gold. With this win Punjab is 1-3 while Haryana is down 0-3. Later in the evening, Delhi Capitals continued their rich form with a 100-68 dismantling of Mumbai Challengers. Delhi is 4-0 while Mumbai is now 2-2.
Hindi film actors Rajneesh Duggal and Yuvika Chaudhary were the special guests on the occasion. “I think this is a great talent. UBA is exceptional and will help grow the game of basketball in India. The league is giving new players a chance to showcase their talents.” said Mr Duggal, after successfully making a freethrow in his second attempt.
Delhi Capitals bt Mumbai Challengers
The second game was between two teams fighting for the top spot in the north division, Delhi Capitals and the Mumbai Challengers. Capitals have had the best record so far this season, having won all three of their games. Mumbai were hot to begin the season, but cooled off yesterday after a blowout loss against the Bengaluru Beast. An exciting contest was on the cards as the Challengers were eager to provide that yesterday’s loss was an aberration, but the Capitals were looking to keep their unbeaten record intact.
Capitals brought their sensational form in the season to this game as well. Vinay Kaushik remained scorching from long range opening Delhi’s scoring on their first possession with a 3-pointer. Capitals’ forward Smithin Settu also looked good from mid-range, draining jumpers in the first half. Capitals rotated their players well with all their players getting minutes in the first half. Ajay Singh and Aaditya Raj knocked a couple of threes off the bench for the Capitals to help extend their lead. On the defensive end, Settu was guarding Mumbai centre Gagandeep Singh to begin the game, while Ramesh was on Jagdeep Bains. Ramesh did a great job containing Jagdeep in the first half while Settu made life difficult for Gagandeep. Capitals got off to a 26-13 start at the end of the first quarter and maintained their lead throughout the game.
Surprisingly, Mumbai did not start with a point guard on the floor and played most of their game with their point guard, Surender, on the bench. As a result, the Challengers had little offensive flow to their game. Players remained stagnant on the floor and ball rotation was missing as well. Too many isolation plays hurt the Challengers, with the Capitals’ defense forcing Mumbai players into tough shots. Although Gagandeep Singh and Nikhil Kumar from Mumbai had some success in the post, it was not enough against the full strength Capitals side. The game quickly became a blowout and Capitals went on a scoring tear to hit the century mark. Capitals’ forward Yudhvir Dahiya contributed 13 points off the bench.
Vinay Kaushik won his second player of the match award with 23 points. Capitals have now won their fourth straight game, while Mumbai have slowed down after a hot start to the season with their record now standing at 2-2.
Delhi Capitals (Vinay Kaushik 23, Smithin Settu 13, Yudhvir Singh 13) bt Mumbai Challengers (Nikhil Kumar 14, Gagandeep Singh 13, Ranbir Singh 10) 100-68 (26-13, 19-20, 24-22, 31-13)
Punjab Steelers bt Haryana Gold
On day 8, the north division teams took to the court here in Pune. The first game was between neighbours and basketball hotbeds Punjab Steelers and Haryana Gold. Both teams are yet to put up a win in the season with Punjab having lost all three of their games, while Haryana lost both their matches.
Hungry for their first victory, the Steelers came out with intent on both ends of the floor. Punjab got off to a quick 10-0 start in the first few minutes. Steelers’ big men, Gurvinder Gill and 2015 MVP Ravi Bhardwaj proved solid on both offense and defense. Haryana Gold’s interior defense could not keep up with the young Steelers’ post players. On offense, Gold’s stashers were looking for Gurvinder and Ravi Bhardwaj on every drive to the rim, which resulted in a number of weak attempts blocked and a lot of altered shots. Bhardwaj would go on to be awarded the player of the match. Gold did manage to cut down on Punjab’s hot start and bring back to within 3 of the Steelers at the end of the first quarter.
But for the rest of the game, Steelers were too hot to handle for Gold. Steelers’ guards Akilan (16 points) and Manoj (14 points) began to knock down outside shots, that helped extend Punjab’s lead. Steelers managed to keep fresh legs on the floor for the remaining three quarters, after establishing some points-cushion. Going deep into their bench, Punjab looked to push the tempo and create easy baskets in transition. Steelers’ guard Amrit Pal Singh also managed to get to the rim and finish, ending the game with 15 points.
Gold just did not have the firepower to match the Steelers. Haryana’s point guards were unable to create with their penetration owing to the stellar rim protection by Punjab. Punjab’s guards used their bodies to overpower the undersized Haryana guards. The last three quarters were dominated by Punjab, who turned the game into a blowout. Steelers picked up their first win of the season, while Haryana Gold is at the bottom of their division, having lost all three of its matches.
Punjab Steelers (Akilan Pari 16, Amrit Pal Singh 15, Manoj R 14) bt Haryana Gold (Abisekh 13, Sanjeev Kumar 13, Deepak Rathee 8) 99-65 [21-18, 29-16, 23-19, 26-12]
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 (Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex) followed by 21st March to 3rd April in Hyderabad (Gachibowli Stadium). 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.