By Siddarth Sharma, UBA Columnist
Punjab Steelers came into this contest looking for their second win of the season while Delhi Capitals were looking for their first. Delhi started off with a lineup of Ronald March, Amjyot Singh Gill, Ajay Pratap, Smithin Settu and Vinay Kaushik. For Punjab, Garry Gill, Akilan Pari, Dermaine Crockrell, Kaushal Kumar and Rajveer Singh.
The first quarter saw the UBA Season 2’s MVP Vinay Kaushik come out aggressive as he dropped in an early three pointer. He hadn’t played up to his potential in the first game, and he looked more assertive in this contest as he had five in the opening period. Ajay Pratap’s seven points led Delhi in the first quarter while Dermaine Crockrell led Punjab in the first quarter with six points. The crowd were treated to a couple of thunderous slam dunks from Ronald March of Delhi Capitals, the second of which came off a perfectly executed backdoor cut resulting in an alley-oop. At the end of the first quarter, the score was tied at 20.
The second quarter saw Dermaine Crockrell score on a hanging double clutch alley-oop and he followed it up with a powerful one-handed dunk. Ronald March was in the mood to fly in this game, and he punished the rim with fury. Vinay Kaushik lobbed up a sharp alley-oop pass to Ronald March. March wasn’t done with the rim as he soon swooped in for a dunk just one step in the free throw line. The second quarter saw Dermaine Crockrell score on a hanging double clutch alley-oop and he followed it up with a powerful one-handed dunk. At halftime, Punjab were leading 42-40 behind Dermaine Crockrell’s 14 points. They led largely because they were able to restrict Amjyot Singh to just 2 points in the first half. In the second quarter, Dermaine Crockrell of Punjab got by March with a deceptive double-clutch alley-oop and he followed it by launching up high for a one-handed jam.
Punjab’s coach Ady Biswas spoke to Riddhima Pathak at haltime about his team going 1-12 from three point range. He said, “We’ve worked on these shots but they haven’t fallen thus far. We’ll continue to look for open shots.” Speaking of facing Ronald March, he said “Oh my God that is one fantastic player! We’ll just look to limit him and hope for the best.”
Delhi Capitals coach PJ Sebastian would be counting on his star player “Amjyot is one of the best players in the country and I’ve spoken to him to turn it around in the second half.”
In the second half, Amjyot Singh looked to establish himself in the post and the floor opened up for Delhi. The third quarter ended with Delhi leading 70-63 over Haryana. They had three players in double figures as Vinay Kaushik, Ajay Pratap and Ronald March combined for 46 points in three quarters.
Amjyot had 40 points on 12 of 14 shooting in his UBA debut, as he also went 12 of 15 from the free throw line, but he had a slow start in this game. He would prove to be a load to handle in this one in the final quarter in spite of that. He got his first field goal with 3 minutes left in the third quarter as Punjab focused on pressuring him with a team effort.
The final quarter was a back and forth affair with neither side being able to breathe easy. Delhi quickly increased their lead to 79-67 with 7:21 left in the fourth quarter. But Dermaine Crockrell got his 26th point off an alley-oop layup and he followed it with a blisteringly fast conversion at the rim to cut Delhi’s lead to 79-71. Akilan Pari hit a long jumper to beat the shot clock but Ronald March answered right back with a three-pointer. Dermaine Crockrell wasn’t ready to give up as he responded with a three pointer of his own. Vinay Kaushik’s layup pushed the lead to 86-78 in favour of the Delhi Capitals but Crockrell dropped in another three-pointer to cut Delhi’s lead to 86-81.
This game came down to the final minutes with Delhi leading 91-87 as Amjyot Singh put in two which were quickly avenged at the other end in two seconds by Rajveer Singh. Rajveer added a three pointer to cut Delhi’s lead to 93-92 with 1:34 remaining. The game came down to free throws in the final seconds as Muin Bek made the decisive free throws to help Delhi Capitals defeat Punjab Steelers 99-96.
Players of the Game: Ronald March (International), Vinay Kaushik (National)
Delhi Capitals (Ronald March 30 pts, Vinay Kaushik 17 pts, Ajay Pratap 16 pts) bt Punjab Steelers 99-96 (Dermaine Crockrell 42 pts, Garry Gill 19 pts, Rajveer Singh 12 pts)