By Siddarth Sharma, UBA Columnist
Goa, 10th March 2017: The first game of UBA South Division semi-finals best-of-three series went right down to the final minutes as Bengaluru Beast overpowered Pune Peshwas for a 138-133 win. The UBA Season 4 championship series is being played at the Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Stadium in Goa from 10-16 March, 2017.
Bengaluru Beast started with a lineup of Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Chris Solomon, Palpreet Brar, Visu Palani and Pratham Singh. Pune Peshwas fielded Amritpal Singh, Pierre Newton, Siddhant Shinde, Narender Grewal and Arshpreet Bhullar.
The first quarter ran almost according to plan for Bengaluru as they raced out to a 10-0 lead. The air seemed to go out of Bengaluru when Palpreet twisted his ankle as he landed on Amritpal’s ankle and had to go to the locker room. Bengaluru were up for the challenge as they began to scorch the ground from downtown behind Solomon’s flurry of 5 threes without a miss. Vishesh, Kaif and Raghuram connected from three point range as Bengaluru led Pune 45-33 at the end of the first. While they had the lead, Vishesh and Visu picked up three fouls each as well. Bengaluru shot an incredible 9-10 from downtown in the first quarter.
Newton started the second quarter doing a little bit of everything for Pune and Amritpal simply imposed his will down low with a couple of thunderous dunks. Bengaluru’s offense was firing on cylinders as they managed to hold on to the lead behind Solomon’s fiery charge. Pune got key contributions from Shinde and Mane as they mounted their comeback. Bengaluru led Pune 80-70 at the end of the first half behind 39 points from Chris Solomon and 22 from Vishesh.
Pune knew they had the advantage inside with Amritpal and they looked to make the most of it in the second half. The moment the ball found its way into Amritpal’s hands, Bengaluru sent multiple defenders at him. The big man used his excellent court vision to rotate the ball and find teammates for good looks. Nevertheless, Bengaluru managed to keep Pune at bay behind brilliant performances from Vishesh and Solomon. Pune cut the lead to 100-96 with less than 3 minutes left in the third quarter but Vishesh and Solomon held them off and at the end of the third quarter, Bengaluru held on to a slim 109-102 lead.
The fourth quarter saw Pune attack with confidence and poise as they methodically looked to attack the rim. Palpreet Brar came into the game for the first time since he injured his ankle in the first quarter. Bengaluru answered in kind by looking to convert up close even if it meant challenging Amritpal who picked up his fourth foul with 6 minutes left.Shinde fouled out halfway in the fourth quarter leaving Pune shorthanded. Pune managed to take a 125-123 lead with 4 minutes in the game, but Vishesh wasted no time in tying the game again. Palpreet and Newton exchanged buckets and Vishesh tied the game at 129 with 2 minutes left in the game. Vishesh added another two and assisted Kaif for two, but Amritpal tied the game with 53 seconds left. Amritpal fouled out by committing an over the back foul on Kaif, who hit a pair of free throws to push Bengaluru’s lead.Solomon stole the ball on the next possession to let Bengaluru pull away to a hard fought 138-133 win.
Players of the Game: Chris Solomon (International), Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (Indian)
Bengaluru Beast (Chris Solomon 55 pts, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 44 pts, Kaif Zia 11) bt 138-1Pune Peshwas (Amritpal Singh 45 pts, Pierre Newton 38 pts, Narender Grewal 13 pts)