By Siddarth Sharma, UBA Columnist
Chennai, 28th February, 2017: The Bengaluru Beast ride a dominant third quarter to defeat the Chennai Slam 100-86 and keep their playoff dreams alive by advancing to the play-in game.
The Chennai Slam fielded a starting lineup of Agu, Ram Kumar, Cammy, Rikin Pethani and Jairam Jat. They faced the Bengaluru Slam’s Visu Palani, Palpreet Brar, Raghuram, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and Pratham Singh.
Coming into their final match of the regular season, the teams were presented with a ‘Win or go home’ situation. Both teams had a 2-3 record at this point, and as is the norm for the South division in the UBA, the playoff picture came right down to the wire.
Chennai started off by pressuring Palpreeet into a turnover, but he recovered to disrupt the fast break attempt on the other end as Bengaluru were able to score two in a hurry behind Vishesh. The teams knew what was at stake, and each possession reflected the desperate sense of urgency. Visu Palani had to get stiches in his mouth earlier in the season, but he showed no ill effects from that as he calmly sunk in his first three pointer. Vishesh was quick to add another three as Bengaluru led Chennai 8-7 with 7 minutes left in the first. Vishesh then assisted Palpreet for a reverse layup as Bengaluru made their intentions to get inside clear. Agu started off with a sense of aggression as he made his way to the rim for two layups. Palpreet was 0-11 from three point range before this contest and he chose the right time to hit his first three as he gave Benglauru a 15-9 lead which was extended to 17-9 on Visu’s layup. Palpreet showed his versatility as he blocked Rikin but the latter was quick to block Bengaluru’s attempt on the other end. The veteran Jairam Jat helped Chennai trim Bengaluru’s lead by taking the ball inside with gritty determination and scoring 7 points in the first quarter. Agu added 8 for Chennai in the first. They had 16 of their 19 attempts from inside the paint. At the end of the first quarter, Bengaluru found themselves leading Chennai 22-19. Five of Bengaluru’s players found themselves on the scoreboard as they shot 9-18 from the field. They also shot 4-8 from three point range in the first.
Jairam started the second quarter with a close jumper and Kaif answered on the other end. Agu had played the role of a facilitator for Chennai in their recent matches, but he knew he had to score and facilitate with equal vigour. He assisted Rikin for two but Vishesh extended it to 8 on a three pointer soon after. Palpreet converted on an and-one play to extend Bengaluru’s lead and he followed it with a jumpshot to extend Bengaluru’s lead to 37-28. Cammy answered wih a three pointer to cut the lead to six. Chennai were the defending champions and they were determined to play as such as they pressured Bengaluru into throwing their final possession in the first half. Ameeth then hit a long 2 for Chennai to end the first half. Bengaluru led Chennai 43-37 at halftime. They were led by 14 points from Palpreet and 10 from Vishesh. For Chennai, Jairam had 11 points and Agu added 9.
At halftime Vishesh spoke about the UBA, stating “The UBA has given new life to basketball in India and it is giving the youngsters a great opportunity to play fast paced competitive basketball, that too live on Ten Sports.”
In the third quarter, Vishesh attacked the basket with his trademark incisive drives, scoring and assisting a driving Palpreet for good looks. Bengaluru seemed to hunt for looks inside while Chennai settled for outside shots in the opening minutes of the third. Chennai found key contributions from Ammeth who kept them in the contest in the third. Palpreet came alive in the third as he scored from all over the floor while Vishesh pressured the defence as Bengaluru raced out to a 66-50 lead with 2:20 left in the third quarter. Vishesh extended their lead to 20 points with a great cut for a layup. Pratham Singh hit a buzzer beating three pointer to give Bengaluru a 73-54 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Chennai started the fourth quarter with desperation as they cut Bengaluru’s lead to 73-58 in the opening minute. Visu hit a 3 pointer which was answered by Jairam and Ashutosh from behind the arc. Ameeth had a dominant showing as he hit a clutch three to cut the lead to 76-66 with 7 minutes left in the game. While Chennai mounted an inspired effort, their comeback fell short as Bengaluru were able to hold on for a 100-86 win.
Players of the game: Chris Solomon (International), Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (Indian)
Bengaluru Beast (Palpreet Brar 34 pts, Vishesh Briguvanshi 24 pts, Visu Palani 12 pts) bt 100-86 Chennai Slam (Jairam Jat 19 pts, Agu 19 pts, Rikin Pethani 16 pts)