By Siddarth Sharma, UBA Columnist
Chennai, 20th February, 2017: The Hyderabad Sky overcame Chennai Slam’s late game rally to hand them a 93-84 defeat. This game saw Agu, Ram Kumar, Cammy, Rikin Pethani and Jairam Jat started for Chennai. For Hyderabad, Mahesh Padmanabhan, Tevin Kelly, Mak Boskailo, Parveen Kumar and Manu Thomas rounded up the starting five.
The action started off with haste as Tevin Kelly of Hyderabad assisted Manu Thomas for a dunk with just 8 seconds in the game and Cammy of Chennai responded with a layup almost instantly. Mahesh Padmanabhan created space with a crossover dribble for a jumper and his teammate Kelly assisted Manu for another jumper as the crowd came alive. Hyderabad Sky raced out to a 17-4 lead with 4 minutes left in the first quarter as Chennai struggled to get anything going. Coach Prasanna Jayasankar called a timeout and Chennai rallied to cut the lead to 17-13. At the end of the first quarter, Hyderabad led Chennai 29-18 behind Tevin Kelly’s 12 points and 4 assists. No player for Chennai had scored double figures in the first quarter. Jairam Jat dived to the floor as he completed a difficult conversion inside as Kelly finished a difficult attempt to close the quarter.
At the end of the first quarter, Hyderabad led Chennai 29-18 behind Tevin Kelly’s 12 points and 4 assists. No player for Chennai had scored double figures in the first quarter. Kelly assisted Boskailo to open the second quarter and Hyderabad moved to extend their lead to 31-20. Kelly hit nothing but net on a three point attempt on a fast break and Mahesh followed suit with a difficult three in traffic. He gave the crowd a replay by knocking down another three.
For Chennai, Agu notched up points by inches from the free throw line as Chennai found themselves trailing 42-26. Tevin Kelly found himself heading to the bench with three fouls. He had played the full 40 minutes in his previous game but going up against the lightning-quick Agu put him in foul trouble. Hyderabad began to run away with the game as the lead extended to 50-32 at the half over Chennai.
Hyderabad coach Ashwini Kumar said at the half, “The players are playing very enthusiastically and with the crowd’s support it becomes easier for them to put up good performances.” Chennai Slam coach Prasanna Jayasankar commented on her team trailing, saying “My team is playing really poor defense and we need to control the rebounds and we’ll try to take advantage of Kelly having three fouls.”
Chennai came out of the gate in the third with three consecutive three pointers as Agu added one and Ram Gopal added a pair. He was quick to add another to cut Hyderabad’s lead to 53-44 as Chennai came right back into the game. Agu found himself to the familiar comfortable zone of the free throw line as the lead shrunk to seven. Mahesh picked up where he had left off in the first half by sinking his fifth three pointer of the night. Cammy answered him right back with a three of his own. Mahesh joined the party with yet another three, having gone 6 of 7 from downtown with 3 minutes left in the third quarter. He was quick to add another three to extend Hyderabad’s lead to 71-58 to finish the third quarter. He had 25 points to lead Hyderabad through three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, Ram Kumar opened up the scoring for Chennai by getting to the rim with urgency. Kelly quickly picked up his fourth foul as Jairam Jat gave Chennai five points in a hurry. Ram Kumar connected from downtown, continuing his long range duel with Mahesh. Jairam fouled out with 6 minutes left and Hyderabad’s lead shrunk to 79-74. Agu and Cammy got to the rim on consecutive possessions as they cut Hyderabad’s lead down to one point. Ram Kumar’s hot shooting from three point range kept Chennai in the game, but Tevin Kelly’s furious drives kept Hyderabad’s lead safe as the game came down to the final minutes with Hyderabad leading 87-82. Ultimately, Hyderabad held on to win it 93-84.
Players of the game: Tevin Kelly (International), Parveen Kumar (Indian)
Hyderabad Sky (Tevin Kelly 39 pts, Mahesh Padmanabhan 29 pts, Mak Boskailo 10 pts) defeat Chennai Slam 93-84 (Ram Kumar 26 pts, Agu Chukwunanu 23 pts, Cammy 13 pts)