*Report by Vishnu Ravi Shankar. Images by Anukriti Bishen. With inputs from Gopalakrishnan R.
Hyderabad, 29th March 2016: The United Basketball Alliance (UBA) Pro Basketball League Season 2 saw the second round of semifinals action today, at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium. North division toppers Delhi Capitals, and south division’s Pune Peshwas kept their campaigns alive with wins over Mumbai Challengers and Chennai Slam respectively.
Dignitaries grace the occasion
The evening was also graced by the presence of multiple achievers across different fields. Beauty pageant, Mrs Sangeetha Singh, winner of the Mrs Australia Planet 2015 was on hand and met the Mumbai and Delhi teams before tipoff. “I have played a bit of basketball in my time as well. I’m really looking forward to this exciting match and hope the best team wins.”
Telugu actor Sudheer Babu attempted a few midrange jumpshots before successfully making a layup. “Basketball is a very loved sport and UBA is doing a fantastic job [of promoting it],” he said.
Also, in attendance were current Senior India men’s forward Rikin Pethani and former India international Manoj Tripathi.
For the second South Division semifinals, Shri Dasyam Vinay Bhaskar, Member of the Telangana Legislative Assembly (MLA) from the Warangal West constituency, was present.
Pune Peshwas bt Chennai Slam 73-71 (South Div. SF#2)
Last year’s finalists took on each other in the second game of their best-of-three semifinal. Defending champions Chennai Slam dominated the Peshwas in Game 1, winning in blowout fashion. It was a ‘win or go home’ situation for Pune, who were desperate to stretch the series to Game 3.
Different players step up in each game the Pune Peshwas play. Today, forward Edwin Irwin provided the offensive boost to Pune in the first quarter, working in the post hitting layups and close jumpers. Gaurav Ohlan continued his touch from Game 1 showing off his feathery touch in the paint scoring 8 points in the first quarter. Pune’s aggressive play earned them a 5-point lead at the end of the first quarter up 21-16.
In the second period, Chennai’s Agu, who started the game with a triple, switched to a higher gear driving in fearlessly to score at the basket. Forward Arjun GK provided a spark off the bench for Chennai, while centre Gopal proved stable yet again operating in the post and hitting his freethrows. Pune continued their 3-pronged offense in the second quarter through Narender, Gaurav Ohlan and Edwin, who continued to be effective for the Peshwas. Pune closed out the first half with a 10-point lead up 40-30.
In the third period, Chennai’s response was led by centre Gopal, who scored his team’s first 10 points in the third period. Arjun GK and Agu remained aggressive pushing the tempo in transition for easy buckets. Chennai regained the lead momentarily but Pune quickly recitified matters on the other end. Narender Grewal was unrelenting looking to drive to the basket on every possession and put his team back up on top. Pune, however, lost their double-digit lead and were up by only five points entering the fourth quarter.
In the final period, it was a battle of the guards. Chennai’s Chukwunanu Agu put on a shooting exhibition knocking down triple after triple (3 in the fourth). Chennai’s defense, however, had no answer for Narender Grewal, who continues to penetrate effortlessly and finish strong. Down the stretch, with Pune down by two points, forward Edwin got past his defender with a quick step in the post to lay the ball in. Agu quickly pushed the ball up the other end to draw the foul. With the game tied at 71 apiece, Agu had the chance to give his team a 2-point lead with under a minute to go in the game. Nerves got the better of him as he missed both freethrows. In the final possession of the game, Grewal (26 points) took the ball to the bucket and hit the layup off a nice spin move to give his team a slim lead with a second left on the clock. Agu missed on Chennai’s final attempt and Pune clinched a 73-71 lead to force Game 3. Grewal won player of the match honours along with a cash prize of INR 25,000.
Pune Peshwas (Narender Grewal 26pts, Gaurav Ohlan 20pts, Edwin Irwin 18pts) bt Chennai Slam (Chukwunanu Agu 25pts 4asts, Gopal Ram 17pts 13rbs, Cammy Carmel 13pts 4asts) 73-71 (21-16, 19-14, 14-19, 19-22)
Delhi Capitals bt Mumbai Challengers 72-61 (North Div. SF#2)
The Mumbai Challengers had drawn first blood in their semifinal series against the Delhi Capitals. The team with the best league stage record, Delhi Capitals, entered today’s game on the back foot after losing the opening game of the series yesterday.
Hoping for two off days before the finals, Mumbai Challengers were eager to close out the series today. Ranbir Singh picked up from where he left off in Game 1, opening his team’s scoring with a strong drive. But his 3-point shooting was below par, which hurt Mumbai’s offense. Mumbai centre Gagandeep Singh kept his numbers up with early points in the paint and from the freethrow line. For Delhi, forward Smithin Setu put up the initial points, cleaning up after his teammates in the paint. Delhi point guard Sachin Sharma nailed a couple of transition buckets to keep the scoring even. Gritty defense from both teams resulted in a low scoring first quarter with Mumbai up 12 to 11.
In the second quarter, Mumbai’s super-sub Brar Dildar came off the bench and hit all three of his 3-point attempts. Gagandeep continued to hit shots from inside the paint and Mumbai seemed poised to run away with the game. But guard Vinay Kaushik and forward Ajay Pratap Singh knocked down a couple of 3-pointers for Delhi to go with strong drives to the basket, keeping their team in the game. There was not much to separate the two teams at halftime with Mumbai still up by only 2 points 28 to 26.
Player of the match in Game 1, Jagdeep Bains joined Mumbai’s scoring party early in the second half operating in the low post. His frontcourt mate Nikhil Dahiya used his athleticism to hit some tough mid-range buckets. Delhi was still unable to stop Gagandeep on the inside, who put his full array of moves on display today, even hitting a deep mid-range banker that seemed out of his range. Delhi’s bench players peppered the Capitals’ scoring in the third quarter with contributions from multiple players. While Delhi used their full bench strength, playing all 12 players on their roster, Mumbai stuck to an 8-man rotation.
Leading by 6 points entering the final period, Vinay Kaushik stepped for Delhi, ferociously driving to the basket and finishing in the paint or earning his points at the freethrow line. Apart from Gagandeep, the other Mumbai players struggled on the offensive end with the team shooting an overall 33% from the field. Delhi’s 19 offensive rebounds led to 21 second chance points, hurting Mumbai down the stretch. Delhi gained the lead midway through the fourth quarter and continued to fire away, led by player of the match Vinay Kaushik’s 15 fourth quarter points. Delhi ended up winning by double-digits 72 to 61 and evened the series at 1-1. Vinay Kaushik was awarded a cash prize of INR 25,000 for his play today. The deciding third place match will be played tomorrow.
Delhi Capitals (Vinay Kaushik 21pts 5asts, Smithin Setu 11pts 12 rbs, Satyajeet 8pts) bt Mumbai Challengers (Gagandeep Singh 22pts, Brar Dildar 11pts, Nikhil Dahiya 9pts) 72-61 (11-12, 14-16, 16-20, 30-13)
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 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.