*Images by Dulon Kharsati.

Pune, 27th February 2016: On the penultimate day of the Pune leg of the UBA Pro Basketball League Season 2, the crowd at the Shivaji Stadium in Pune witnessed north division action. The first game was between the unbeaten Delhi Capitals and Punjab Steelers, who were looking for their second win of Season 2. Punjab ended up upsetting the Delhi Capitals, handing them their first loss of Season 2. The second game was between the Mumbai Challengers and the Haryana Gold. Mumbai registered the win, improving to a 3-2 record, while Haryana remained in the loss column.

Mumbai Challengers bt Haryana Gold

Ranbir Singh of Mumbai Challengers (in orange) rises for the layup against two Haryana defenders.

Ranbir Singh of Mumbai Challengers (in orange) rises for the layup against two Haryana defenders.

After a hot start, the Mumbai Challengers have lost their previous two games and were looking to bounce back today in their match against Haryana Gold. Haryana are still looking for their first win this season, hoping to finish the Pune leg with at least one victory.

Two new point guards started for each of the teams. For Mumbai, youngster Prudhvi Reddy was back into the starting lineup, after having missed the last two games for the team owing to the NBA-ACG Jump elite camp. For Haryana, their starting point guard last season, Himanshu Sharma joined the team for his first game in Season 2 today.

The point guard change seemed to help both teams, as the first half tuned out to be a battle of the no. 17s – Prudhvi and Himanshu. After a dismal first couple of games, Prudhvi finally showed the UBA world what he is capable of. He was perfect from the 3-point line in the first half and was at the receiving end of easy transition buckets as well. On the other hand, Himanshu Sharma was scintillating in his drives to the basket, finishing with both hands on either side of the rim. He ended up with 13 first half points, but his teammates failed to step up yet again. Although Himanshu managed to keep his team within fighting distance of Mumbai in the first half, he could not single-handedly do it throughout the game.

Mumbai’s offensive weapons had their way against the weak Haryana Gold defense. Ranbir, who won player of the match honours, was fluid offensively throughout the contest. Whether it was his 3-point shot, transition buckets or half-court penetrations, Ranir was doing it all today and ended up with a double-double of 29 points and 11 rebounds. Mumbai centre was also great for his team today, putting his post moves to work and finishing the game with a big double-double of 20 points and 14 rebounds. Jagdeep Bains was also efficient for his team with 11 points on 4 of 6 shooting.

Although Himanshu Sharma scored 22 points in the contest, only one other Haryana Gold player scored in double digits – centre Jaskaran Singh with 10 points. Mumbai surged ahead in the third quarter, building a huge lead and ending up breaking the team scoring record in the league so far with 114 points. Haryana have lost all their four games, while Mumbai bounced back to improve to a 3-2 record.

Mumbai Challengers (Ranbir Singh 29, Prudhvi Reddy 21, Gagandeep Singh 20) bt Haryana Gold (Himanshu Sharma 23, Jaskaran Singh 10, Rajat 9) 114-78 (24-20, 24-21, 34-20, 32-17)

Punjab Steelers bt Delhi Capitals

Akilan Pari (in black) drives in for the leftie layup against Delhi Capitals (in white).

Akilan Pari (in black) drives in for the leftie layup against Delhi Capitals (in white).

After their first victory against the Haryana Gold, the Punjab Steelers seemed to have regained their lost confidence going into today’s game against the Delhi Capitals. Delhi was looking to keep their perfect record alive, going for their fifth straight win.

Punjab went into the game with Kaushal (from Karnataka) and international forward Gurvinder Gill as the two bigs, with the MVP of last season, Ravi Bhardwaj, coming off the bench. Gill was testing his shooting touch in the beginning of the game, happily taking and making jumpers in the first quarter, including a surprising 3-pointer to begin the game. Point guard Akilan brought out the inner scorer in him today, taking control of his team’s offense. The Delhi defenders were unable to control Akilan’s penetration as he got the basket with ease to finish craftily around the rim. His 3-point shot was falling today as well, making him virtually unstoppable.

Delhi Capitals found it difficult to set their offense in the first half. Punjab played aggressive perimeter defense to force multiple turnovers from the Capitals. Whenever the Capitals’ players did manage to drive into the paint, Gurvinder was waiting to protect the rim. Last season’s MVP Ravi Bhardwaj came off the bench in the second quarter to add to the rim protection for Punjab.

Capitals’ go-to scorer Vinay Kaushik struggled with his shot in the first half. Punjab gave him no space on the 3-point line, forcing him to take difficult shots. Ramesh was the only major contributor for the Capitals using his body in the post, ending up with 10 points in the first half. But Delhi had little contribution from their other players leading to Punjab ending the first half with a 20-point lead 46-26.

The second half followed much of the same script. Akilan (27 points) continued to fire away and knock down shots. Multiple steals from Akilan led to easy transition buckets. His backcourt mate Amrit Pal Singh (14 points) was efficient for the Steelers as well either finishing in transition or penetrating and creating for his teammates. Gurvinder continued to be destructive in the paint using his athleticism to finish around the rim. Steelers ended up blowing out the Capitals and finishing with a 86-58 victory, wining back-to-back games. Capitals were handed their first loss this season.

Gurvinder Gill won the player of the match award with his 24 points and 16 rebounds.

Punjab Steelers (Akilan Pari 27, Gurvinder Gill 23, Amrit Pal Singh 14) bt Delhi Capitals (Ramesh 14, Vinay Kaushik 12, Yudhvir Singh 7) 86-58 (18-12, 28-14, 17-19, 23-13)

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.

For more information, visit: www.ubaindia.in/. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ubaindia/

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.

Gopalakrishnan R
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