Pune Peshwas jump out to an early lead and hold off the Hyderabad Sky 114-103

Hyderabad Sky vs Pune Peshwas

UBA Pro Basketball League Season 4 tips off as Pune Peshwas jump out to an early lead and hold off the Hyderabad Sky

16 February, 2017: Season 4 of the United Basketball Alliance (UBA) Pro Basketball League tipped off today as Hyderabad Sky faced the Pune Peshwas for the inaugural game. The UBA is being hosted in Chennai at the Sathyabama University, and if the opening game was any indication, we are in for a memorable season.

Hyderabad Sky was fielding two dynamic UBA debutants from the USA: the high-flying, albeit diminutive guard Tevin Kelly who stands just 5"11 but lives above the rim and the 6"9 MakBoskailo who hails originally from Bosnia and has played in the Los Angles Drew League, which has seen stints from superstars like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant.

Speaking of his debut in front of an Indian crowd, Tevin said “I'm looking forward to the energy, for the crowd to love us as we love them and to give them a taste of USA basketball. I feel like I've worked really hard to develop my game, and we are here for them and hopefully they'll be here for us and we'll give them a show."

His teammate Mack echoed that sentiment, "I'm just really excited to be here. The more the crowd gives us the more we can feed off of it. I love this game and I just want to put on a great show for them.”

Pune Peshwas found themselves hamstrung in the first game as they were without three players, including one of the best 1-2 guard combination in the UBA in SiddhantShinde and Ajinkya Mane, along with Pradeep Chauhan who were attending another tournament. They did feature newcomer Pierre Newton, who's played for Arizona State University. Indian captain Amritpal Singh made his long-awaited UBA debut as well. The newcomers wasted no time in living up to the billing.

The starting five for Hyderabad included Mahesh Padmanabhan, Tevin Kelly, MakBoskailo, Joginder Singh and Manu Thomas. Pune fielded Pierre Newton, Amritpal Singh, Ajinkya Mehta, Narender Grewal and ArshpreetBhullar. The very first minute saw the two big men on each team exchange baskets down low as Mak and Amritpal were quick to get to the rim to put their teams on the scoreboard. Pune came out with a purpose in the first quarter as four of their starters played the entire first ten minutes. The end of the first quarter saw Pune Peshwas build a 29-19 lead as the Hyderabad Sky shot themselves in the foot by shooting just 1 of 10 from downtown in the first quarter.

The law of averages evened out for Hyderabad as they finally made a couple of connections from downtown in the second quarter. After Hyderabad overcame Pune's initial lead in the second quarter, the game turned into a back and forth affair as both teams exchanged baskets with the ferocity of heavyweights exchanging jabs. By halftime, Pune held a 57-55 lead.

At this point, Amrit Pal had amassed a stat-line good enough for end game numbers as he had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and a steal and a block a-piece. Pune played to their strength by riding their star player and he was quick to draw numerous fouls on Hyderabad's frontline. Amritpal literally bled for his team as he was slashed on an and-1 conversion resulting in a gash on his arm. Coach Ram Kumar of the Pune Peshwas spoke with pride about Amritpal, saying "He's tall, strong and experienced as he's played professionally in Japan. That is a difficult combination to stop." It quickly became clear that while Hyderabad could do all they wished to slow him down but only getting in foul trouble would minimize his impact on the game. He plays with unbridled passion and it got the better of him on occasion as he was called for a technical after being warned a couple of times.

For Hyderabad, MakBoskailo had 16 points and 4 rebounds by the half, but he had amassed three fouls as well and he picked up another quick one in the third which sent him to the bench.

Kelly opened the third quarter with a quick drive to the rim and Newton answered right back with a layup of his own. Joginder hit Arshpreet with a beautiful dream shake which would have made Hakeem Olajuwon proud. Late in the third quarter, Mahesh helped Hyderabad tie the game at 85 as he assisted on consecutive baskets, but the end of the third quarter saw Pune holding on to a 91-87 lead. Mak stayed on the bench for most of the quarter due to foul trouble but Mahesh and Kelly kept the game close for Hyderabad.

The fourth quarter was a close affair as neither team could breathe easy for a second with the momentum bouncing back and forth. Pune had a couple of easy misses right at the rim as the lead oscillated in single digits and Kelly helped Hyderabad keep the game close with some brave drives to mount a comeback, but it was a case of too little too late as Pune held on to win it 114-103.

The game had quite a few memorable plays from both teams. At one point, Mak got the ball on the corner and took just one dribble to get right to the rim for a two-handed jam wich brought the house down. Amritpal answered right back with a pretty conversion inside as the two big men had a memorable duel which was cut short as Mak had to sit due to foul trouble.

Player of the game: Newton Pierre and Amritpal Singh

Pune Peshwas (Amritpal Singh 31, Pierre Newton 31, Narender Grewal 15) bt Hyderabad Sky 114-103 (Tevin Kelly 25, Mahesh Padmanabhan 22, MakBoskailo)