*Report by Vishnu Ravi Shankar. Images by Anukriti Bishen. Edits & upload by Gopalakrishnan R
Hyderabad, 23rd March 2016: The second and final leg of the United Basketball Alliance (UBA) Pro Basketball League 2016, tipped off at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium earlier today with Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Challengers posting wins. Popular Hindi film actors Arjun Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor Khan were special guests on the occasion and showed their support, while also promoting their new film Ki and Ka that releases on 1st April.
“It’s amazing that other sports are getting their due and I am very happy that we can be part of such a well organised event. I have played basketball in school and love the sport,” said Mr Arjun Kapoor.
“It is great to be here in Hyderabad, one of my most favourite cities. It is the first time I am witnessing a basketball match and the feeling is amazing. Thank you UBA and Ten Sports for allowing us to talk about our very special film. It is a film perfect for this environment, as it is about men and women following their dreams, just like how you boys are following your dream of playing basketball,” said Ms Kareena Kapoor.
Delhi Capitals bt Haryana Gold 68-66
The first game of the second leg of the UBA Pro Basketball League Season 2 was between north division neighbours Delhi Capitals and Haryana Gold. Each of these teams has had very different runs in the tournament so far. While Delhi is on top of the table in the north division, Haryana are the only winless team in the tournament, having lost all of their games in the Pune leg.
Gold started with two point guards in their backcourt, Sanjeev Kumar and Ashiv Jain. Haryana seemed a bit rusty to begin the game with a sluggish start in the first quarter. Delhi capitalized on the Haryana turnovers to gain an early lead with buckets in transition. The Capitals also relied on good ball movement in their half court sets to produce open shots for their team. Guard Vinay Kaushik, who had a stellar Pune leg, continued his good form in the first half of today’s game getting to the basket and forcing Delhi to defend him on the perimeter as well. Delhi ended up with a 20-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Haryana fought back, led by their backup point guard Himanshu Sharma. His quickness and sticky ball handling helped him penetrate and finish at the rim against the Capitals. On the defensive end, centre Jaskaran (5 blocks) was a huge defensive presence, blocking or altering shots from Delhi’s slashers. Haryana closed out the gap and ended the first half down by just one point 33 to 34. The second half was an even scoring affair, with both teams trading buckets. Forward Deepak Rathee had a big third quarter for Haryana Gold, using his size and dexterity in the paint to put up the points. For Delhi, Yudhvir Dahiya provided the offensive spark off the bench with 8 points and 11 rebounds.
The game continued to be neck-and-neck down the stretch. Despite a distinct rebounding advantage for Delhi (76 to 32), the Capitals could not capitalize on most of their second chance opportunities. Young guard Sunil Rathee came off the bench for Delhi in the fourth quarter to provide some crucial buckets. He had 8 points in the fourth to keep his team in the contest.
With under a minute of play left in the game, Gold centre Jaskaran made a clutch mid-range jumper off a broken play to put his team up by one point. On the other end, Delhi’s star guard Vinay Kaushik made his way to the freethrow line only to split his freethrows and tie the game. Haryana could not make much out of their next possession and the game came down to the final Dlehi possession with 3 seconds on the clock. Capitals chose to go to Vinay Kaushik, who drove in with strength and nailed a wild banker off the glass at the buzzer to put his team up by 2 and break the hearts of Haryana fans.
Delhi survived the Haryana scare today to maintain their good record, while Haryana Gold will continue to search for their first win.
Mumbai Challengers bt Punjab Steelers 82-79
The second game of the first day here in Hyderabad was between the Mumbai Challengers and Punjab Steelers. Both teams had mixed fortunes in the Pune leg. Mumbai started the tournament strong but slowed down towards the end. On the other hand, Punjab had a bad start, but picked up well in the later games.
Mumbai showed their form of old in the first quarter of today’s game, pushing the tempo of the game by playing a fast-paced style. All five starters contributed in the first period, facilitated by the play of young point guard Prudhvi Reddy. The entire Mumbai frontcourt went to work today, led by forward Jagdeep and centre Gagandeep. Mumbai ended the first quarter up by 15 points and looked poised to run away with the game.
But Punjab had other plans with a strong second quarter. Backup point guard Kuldeep Tita Singh and guard Amritpal Singh regularly got past Punjab’s perimeter defense to get to the basket. Punjab also had good support from their bench who provided a total of 57 points for the Steelers in today’s game. Punjab managed to tie the game at halftime at 42 apiece.
Entering the second half, Punjab’s Kuldeep kept slithering his way to the basket and connecting on his outside shot to pile on the points for his team. Mumbai’s Karanpal Singh, who was the scoring champion in the first season, provided a useful offensive contribution for the Challengers in the third quarter. Jagdeep kept his offensive rhythm going as well for Mumbai powering his way to the basket. The game witnessed 9 lead changes and was tied 8 times, with little to separate the teams down the stretch.
In the fourth, MVP of Season 1, Punjab’s Ravi Bhardwaj (18 points and 15 rebounds) took on the scoring for his team knocking down shots playing his mid-range game. Punjab’s Keshav (14 points) was also useful in the last period off the bench hitting crucial buckets to keep his team within striking distance of Mumbai. But with under 30 seconds of play left in the game and the game was tied at 79, Jagdeep Singh (21 points) nailed a layup on a strong cut to the basket to give his team a 2 point lead. A Punjab turnover on the final possession sealed the deal for Mumbai, who started the Hyderabad leg with an 82-79 victory.
Mumbai Challengers (Jagdeep Singh Bains 21pts, Gagandeep Singh 17pts 13rbs, Nikhil Dahiya 14pts 12rbs) bt Punjab Steelers (Ravi Bhardwaj 18pts 15rbs, Kuldeep Tita Singh 18pts, Keshav 14pts) 82-79 (30-15, 12-27, 21-17, 19-20)
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 23 March to 3 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.