Highlights of the first leg
- Live primetime television coverage on Ten Network Channels each night.
- Families and friends of players finally get to watch their loved ones in action on TV.
- Financial rewards for players: cash prizes for in-game dunks; and man of the match awards of Rs 25000/-.
- Numerous celebrities from the entertainment, business, political and bureaucratic sectors in attendance throughout the Pune leg.
Hyderabad, 22nd March 2016: Talk about dramatic endings. Just when it appeared like some teams were pulling ahead in the UBA Pro Basketball League Season 2, the last few days of action from the first Pune leg, that concluded on 28th February, produced some stunning turnarounds for bottom placed teams.
The second and final leg will tip off in Hyderabad at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium from 23rd March and conclude on 3rd April. A final set of league matches will be played in Hyderabad following which the top two teams from the north and south divisions compete in best-of-three semi-finals, followed by best-of-three finals.
Cross-spectrum celebrity support for UBA Pro Basketball
Besides the games themselves, the 11 day first leg in Pune saw a steady stream of popular celebrities ranging from movie stars (Suniel Shetty, Ameesha Patel, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Vidya Malavade, Urvashi Rautela, Yuvika Chaudhary), TV actors (Manav Gohil, Shweta Kawatra, Gurmeet Choudhary, Rajeev Paul and Debina Bonnerjee), model-actors (Rajneesh Duggal), anchors (Rochelle Rao, Keith Sequeira), singer-actors (Himesh Reshammiya, Ali Quli Khan) and fashion stylists/reality TV stars (Imam Siddique).
Not to be left behind, heavyweights in the political, business and government establishment too made their presence felt at various stages of the tournament. Ms Poonam Mahajan (BJP Member of Parliament and President of the Maharashtra State Basketball Association), Mr Tehseen Poonawalla (Pune based entrepreneur and columnist) and Mr Pravin Dixit (Maharashtra Director General of Police).
How the teams fared in the Pune leg
The south division in particular saw Hyderabad Sky bounce back from three straight losses to beat the early leaders Chennai Slam and Bengaluru Beast. Not to be outdone, local team Pune Peshwas put behind the disappointment of losing twice to Bengaluru to beat defending champs Chennai Slam, Hyderabad Sky and Haryana Gold.
On the other hand, Chennai Slam and Bengaluru Beast, both of whom started off strong, ended the first leg in Pune with losses to Hyderabad Sky. Although, still at the bottom of the south division, Sky is now on a roll with a two game winning streak and perfectly poised going into their homecourt for the second and final phase of the Pro League at the Gachibowli Stadium.
Just like their counterparts in the South, North division too saw some early victors and losers, who saw their fortunes reversed in the latter half of the inaugural Pune leg. Unlike the South though, where all four teams are in with a realistic chance of making it to the semifinals, the North still has one team yet to record a win. The Shiba Maggon led Haryana Gold side showed signs of improvement in their final cross-division match against Pune Peshwas, only to let the advantage slip away in the second half. The joining of Indian senior men’s team camper Himanshu Sharma is a much needed boost going into the Hyderabad leg. Can Haryana Gold prove to be giant killers in the second half? We will have to wait and watch.
On the other end of the spectrum is the hugely impressive Delhi Capitals side, coached by 26-year-old Mukesh Bishnoi, the youngest coach among all teams. India international Vinay Kaushik has been a revelation for the Capitals, stepping up with his consistent scoring throughout. Kaushik though, couldn’t prevent a massive drubbing against Punjab Steelers in their final game in Pune. Steelers is one of those teams on the rise, after struggling to find their chemistry in the initial goings. But with the addition of India point guard Akilan Pari and the return of last year’s MVP Ravi Bhardwaj, they seem to have put behind the disappointment of losing swingman Sartaj Sandhu to injury. Steelers won their last two games in Pune and are placed third in the North behind Mumbai.
At the start of the tournament, Mumbai Challengers were undoubtedly the strongest team on paper. But matches aren’t played on paper, and reputations can only go so far. The Pune leg has been topsy-turvy for Challengers, with the mixed bag of results reading: WWLLW. Consistency and fitness will be the key for Mumbai, which has struggled against the two fastest teams in the competition- Bengaluru and Delhi. Will the ageing legs of their veteran forwards Jagdeep Bains and Gagandeep Singh keep up with the young bloods in Hyderabad? Coach PC Antony has his task cut out to keep his players in shape with less than four weeks to go for phase 2.
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 23rd 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 tournament play, and creating merchandising opportunities.