*Report by Vishnu Ravi Shankar & images by Dulon Kharsati
Pune, 26th February 2016: On Day 9 of the United Basketball Alliance (UBA) Pro Basketball League Season 2, last year’s finalists Pune Peshwas and Chennai Slam took on each other in the first game. Home team Peshwas emerged victorious handing Chennai their first defeat of this season. Later in the evening Hyderabad Sky finally got their first win, stopping the high flying Bengaluru Beast dead in their tracks.
Indian TV stars Manav Gohil, Shweta Kawatra, Gurmeet Choudhary and Debina Bonnerjee were present to witness the south division action today. “More than anything I’m feeling proud. It’s a great initiative and the future is bright,” said Gohil during halftime. Shweta Kawatra was also impressed with the quality of action and said: “Last time I saw a basketball game like this was in Canada. This is even better.”
Hyderabad Sky bt Bengaluru Beast
The second south division game was between Bengaluru Beast and Hyderabad Sky. Beast has been on a tear recently coming into this game with back-to-back wins under their belt. On the other hand, Hyderabad Sky has had the worst run this season, still searching for their first win.
Bengaluru started the game well, sticking to their game plan of pushing the tempo. Guards Raghuram, Yashas and Visu were happy to run and gun and pick up easy transition buckets. The quick pace helped Bengaluru establish a first quarter lead 20 to 15. But Hyderabad overcame the slow start, led by their international point guard Joginder Singh. He started knocking down his shots in the second quarter, finally finding his form this season. Indian-Australian guard Mahesh Padmanabhan remained consistent for Hyderabad creating through his penetration and draining open jumpers. Hyderabad gained the lead at halftime ending the second quarter up 39 to 37.
Third quarter was neck-and-neck as well. For Bengaluru, Raghuram continued to score with 17 points in the game. Beast centre Somveer (13 points) earned his points in the post, powering his way to the basket. However, his counterpart from Hyderabad, centre Edwin Oneh had a dominant game today with a huge double-double. He created numerous second chance opportunities for his team and ended up with 18 points and 18 rebounds, including 8 offensive boards. Joginder kept knocking down his shots in the fourth as well and Hyderabad managed to pull away late in the game to register their first victory of the tournament, handing Bengaluru an 81-70 loss.
Hyderabad Sky (Joginder Singh 20, Edwin Oneh 18, Mahesh Padmanabhan 15) bt Bengaluru Beast (Raghuram 17, Yashas Ramesh 11, Manpreet 9) 81-70 (15-20, 24-17, 20-21, 22-12)
Pune Peshwas bt Chennai Slam
In a rematch of last year’s final, Pune Peshwas and Chennai Slam took to the court in the first match of Day 9. Peshwas were without the services of their international player Narender Grewal, who is about to get married and had to head home. He will join the team again in the second leg of Season 2 in Hyderabad.
Pune mixed up their starting lineup with centre Gaurav Ohlan getting the start in place of Ravi Kumar. For Chennai, Ram Kumar started the game at small forward, with Arjun GK coming off the bench. Chennai got off to quick start with Agu finding his touch from the outside. He knocked down a couple of 3s in the first five minutes to give Slam the early lead. Arjun GK came off the bench early, replacing Ram Kumar for defensive purposes. He also drained a triple in the early going to extend Chennai’s lead. But the Peshwas fought back, led by coach’s son Arjun Mehta, who finished strong driving to the basket.
The first quarter ended with Chennai up 19 to 14. In the second quarter, however, Peshwas’ point guard decided to take over the game. He started with a triple and went on to keep finding the bottom of the basket from distance. His backcourt mate Ajinkya Mane also found his touch from deep. Both guards ensured that the scoreboard kept ticking for their team. The first half ended with Pune gaining a slim 1-point lead 41-40.
In the second half, the game continued to remain close with multiple lead changes. Chennai’s shooting guard Cammy (16 points) turned up the heat in the third quarter, knocking down back-to-back triples and picking up some easy transition buckets as well. Chennai’s Ashutosh (10 points) also continued to knock down shots to keep his team in the contest, while Agu (17 points) drew multiple fouls and earned his point at the freethrow line.
The real difference maker, however, was Peshwas’ point guard Shinde’s ability to knock down triples. He ended up with 30 points in the game, which included 5 triples. Centre Gaurav Ohlan (16 points) was also effective for the Peshwas, crashing the boards and netting his points in the paint. Both teams played tight defense throughout the match. The game was a major grind-out affair with little to separate the teams down the stretch.
Shinde was big for his team and his late buckets gave his team a slender 6-point lead in the final minutes. With little over a minute’s play left in the game, Agu knocked down a triple late in the clock to cut down Pune’s lead to 3. But Pune maintained their composure – Shinde nailed crucial freethrows to help his team pull away and clinch a 79-75 victory. Shinde was awarded the player of the match. This is the first defeat for the Slam, while Pune’s record improved to 2-2.
Pune Peshwas (Siddhanth Shinde 28, Gaurav Ohlan 16, Ajinkya Mane 15) bt Chennai Slam (Chukwunanu Agu 17, Cammy Carmel 16, Ashutosh Rai 12) 79-75 (14-19, 26-20, 23-22, 16-14)
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.