*Report by Vishnu Ravi Shankar. Images by Anukriti Bishen, with inputs from Gopalakrishnan R.
Hyderabad, 2nd April 2016: Game 2 of the Championship Series round of the United Basketball Alliance (UBA) Pro Basketball League Season 2 concluded a short while ago at the Gachibowli Stadium in the city. Needing a win today to stay alive in the competition, Delhi Capitals did just that, beating Chennai Slam 77-67, to force a Game 3.
The evening was graced by the presence of guests, actor Naga Chaitanya Akkineni, and Mr Dinakar Babu, IAS officer, who is the Vice Chancellor & MD of Sports Authority of Telangana.
Said Mr Babu, “The game of basketball is picking up and I wish the UBA and all the participating teams a grand success. Let the spirit of basketball spread far and wide into every nook and corner of India.”
When asked to reveal which team he was supporting tonight, actor Naga Chaitanya said, “This is my first experience of live basketball action in India. I did my schooling in Chennai, so I am supporting Chennai Slam tonight.”
Delhi Capitals bt Chennai Slam 77-67 [Finals, Game 2]
The defending champions Chennai Slam had emphatically taken Game 1 of the UBA Season 2 Finals with a 15-point victory against the Delhi Capitals. If this were the first season, the Slam would have lifted the championship trophy by now. But this is Season 2 of the UBA and, in a best-of-three finals, Chennai had to win one more game to clinch back-to-back championships.
Both teams stuck to their Game 1 starting fives, with Ramkumar still in the lineup for the Chennai Slam at small forward. With their backs to the wall, Delhi Capitals came out firing in the first quarter. MVP Vinay Kaushik struck first from mid-range and he followed it up with a 3-point jumper. Chennai point guard Agu provided the early scoring for Chennai converting defense to offense and knocking down his long-range shots. But later in the first, Delhi big man Smithin Setu caught fire from mid-range, hitting jumper after jumper. Delhi centre Ramesh also provided a couple of buckets from the paint, helping the Capitals build an initial lead. Backup point guard Sunil Rathee came off the bench to nail a deep 3, putting Delhi up 20-10 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Delhi continued to build their lead with Vinay Kaushik and forward Ajay Pratap Singh draining a triple each. The Delhi players penetrated with ease, making their way to the basket. Point guard Sachin got going with a strong drive to the basket, while the Delhi frontcourt stayed aggressive, crashing the offensive boards and looking for shots closer to the hole. For Chennai, forward Arjun GK came off the bench to lift his team’s offense, hanging and hitting on tough drive-ins. Agu hit a triple and Cammy hit a couple of jumpers to keep their team in the hunt. But Sunil Rathee drained another late triple for the Capitals, giving them a 41-28 lead going into halftime.
Coming out of halftime, Slam decided to make a decisive push towards Delhi’s score, tightening up on the defensive end. A flurry of transition buckets later, Chennai cut the lead down to single digits. Cammy and Arjun hit a triple each; Gopal contributed with an and-1 bucket and Agu’s strong cuts and drives put Chennai on a mini-run. An Ashutosh mid-range jumper finally tied the game at 50 apiece and the third quarter ended with Delhi’s lead cut down to just 3 points (53-50).
In the final period, Arjun GK hits an early triple, cleaning the slate and tying the game. Ajay Pratap Singh answered back for the Capitals with a clean triple of his own. Delhi’s shooters started heating up thereafter, with Vinay Kaushik drilling a 3, following by another 3-pointer from Ajay. Delhi began to slowly pull away from Chennai down the stretch. Arjun (21 points) managed to keep his team in contention with his hustle plays, including an athletic tip-in in the late minutes. But it was a bit too late for Chennai, whose slow start cost them the game. Late free throws from Vinay Kaushik (17 points) and Ramesh (17 points) clinched Game 2 for the Capitals, tying the series at 1-1. Delhi centre Ramesh won the player of the match award for his big double-double of 17 points and 16 rebounds.
The deciding Game 3 will be played tomorrow.
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.