Punjab Steelers shoot lights out to down Haryana Gold behind Kumar Kaushal's 28 points.
Chennai, 17th February, 2017: The first day of UBA Pro Basketball League Season 4 set the bar pretty high as we saw multiple 40 point scorers and all four teams scored in triple digits. The second day started off with a bang as well as Punjab and Haryana engaged in a back and forth affair.
Punjab Steelers were fielding newcomer Dermaine Crockrell from the USA, a versatile talent who had led Bemidji State University in scoring. They featured a starting lineup of Garry Gill, Akilan Pari, Rajveer Singh, Dermaine Crockrell and Kaushal Kumar.
Haryana Gold saw De'Sean Mattox make his UBA debut. Standing 6"1, he's played professionally in Colombia. Shane Jayamanne made his return to UBA from Australia. Yadwinder Singh, a defensive dynamo and perennial Indian team star for over a decade finally made his much awaited UBA debut. They started off with a lineup of Prakash Mishra, Jaskaran, DeSean Mattox, EbanHyams and Yadwinder Singh. Haryana brought in a lot of size as they had Akashdeep on the bench as well to hold down the fort.
The teams struggled to find the back of the net in the opening minutes until Mattox and Eban connected from downtown to open the scoring. Haryana were quick to respond as they ripped in 12 points in a hurry to tie the game at 12 halfway in the first quarter. Prakash Mishra hit nothing but net on two threes points, adding 9 points in a hurry as Mattox capitalized on his explosiveness to do damage on drives. The end of the first quarter saw the Punjab Steelers leading 21-20. Haryana capitalized from distance in the first, connecting on four of six threes.
The second quarter saw Gary Gill complete a soaring alley-oop off a pass from Rajveer Singh. Gill's vertical leap served him well in completing some more looks down low. Harayana took a timeout with 6:46 remaining to slow things down as Punjab stretched their lead to 32-24. Punjab also saw Kaushal power his way to a few buckets utilizing deliberate footwork. He feasted down low by drawing fouls with nifty post moves. Haryana were having a field day from downtown, connecting at a high percentage. Nevertheless, Punjab managed to keep it close by attacking the rim with a purpose.
At the half, Haryana found themselves down 55-47. Harayana had connected on almost half of their attempts and while Punjab shot 58% from the field, they were working harder for their points as they were scoreless from downtown. Kaushal Kumar's 16 points helped keep them in the game as they made 17 free throws as a team.
Eban quickly picked up his fourth foul in the opening minutes of the third, before he could sit down on the bench, Gary converted another alley-oop to the delight of the crowd. He seems to be live perpetually above the rim, dunking with vengeance and swatting shots away, occasionally descending on earth for mundane tasks. Harayana continued their hot streak from downtown as Prakash Mishra and Mattox connected on consecutive attempts. Prakash has one of the smoothest strokes in the country and he was out in full force scoring his 14th point in the third quarter.
Punjab were up by 14, but Haryana were not ready to throw in the towel as they cut it down to 74-68. The end of the third saw them trail 79-73. The fourth quarter flipped the script as Punjab absolutely blitzed Haryana in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter as they pushed the lead to 90-76. Indian national team player AkilanPari hit his first shot to make the score 104-90 for Punjab with a couple of minutes left and Haryana were unable to recover from the deficit. Punjab defeated Haryana in their first game 106-92.
Players of the game: Kumar Kaushal (Indian), Dermaine Crockrell (International)
Top scorers- Punjab Steelers (Kumar Kaushal 26, Garry Gill 24, Dermaine Crockrell 28) bt Haryana Gold (De'Sean Mattox 38, Himanshu Sharma 16, Prakash Mishra 14)