By Siddarth Sharma, UBA Columnist
Chennai, 26th February 2017: In a back and forth encounter, Hyderabad Sky overcame a balanced attack from Chennai Slam as they raced out for an 83-79 win.
Chennai started with a lineup of Agu, Ram Kumar, Cammy, Rikin Pethani and Jairam Jat. They faced Hyderabad’s starting five of Mahesh Padmanabhan, Tevin Kelly, Mak Boskailo, Joginder Singh and Manu Thomas. Chennai had a classical combo of a speedy guard in Agu, a strong post presence in Rikin and potent shooters revolving around the duo with players like Cammy, Ram Kumar and Jairam. They capitalized on their active motion offense all night long for good looks. Hyderabad had three speedy guards in Mahesh, Kelly and Joginder pushing the backcourt while Manu and Boskailo anchored the middle.
Playing in front of their home crowd, Chennai raced out to a 5-0 lead behind quick conversions from Cammy and Rikin. Hyderabad tied the game at 7 behind Tevin Kelly halfway into the quarter. Telly drew the second foul on Agu but the latter stayed on the court. Joginder halted Chennai’s run with a three and Kelly ended the first quarter with a buzzer beating three as Chennai led Hyderabad 19-17 to end the first quarter.
Kelly opened the second quarter with a flying layup to tie the game at 19. Ashutosh came out firing in the second quarter, connecting on his first two jumpers for Chennai. Mahesh hit a three to give Hyderabad a 36-35 lead, then he quickly stole the ball to get two more. Kelly converted an and-one to give Hyderabad a 41-40 lead at the end of the second quarter.
Chennai hustled hard as a team and moved the ball around well as they had 12 assists on 18 made field goals in the first half. They also out-rebounded Hyderabad 29-16 in the first half.
Chennai opened the second half by rotating the ball for good looks and Hyderabad responded with a couple of buckets from Kelly and Mahesh. Neither team could open up a comfortable lead as the momentum shifted like a pendulum in this tightly fought contest. The teams exchanged leads as Hyderabad pulled away to a slim 67-63 lead over Chennai at the end of the third quarter. Besides Mahesh, Kelly and Joginder, no other player for Hyderabad had more than 5 points through the first three quarters.
Chennai opened the fourth quarter by charging ahead to tie the game at 67 as they raced out for easy baskets in the open court. Hyderabad tied the game at 73 off a putback from Mak Boskailo. Kelly’s three pointer with 5:10 left gave Hyderabad a three point lead and Mahesh streaked inside to extend the lead to five. Cammy answered for Chennai but Manu dropped in two from up close to extend Hyderabad’s lead to 82-75. Ram Kumar hit a long two to bring Chennai within 83-77, but they were unable to mount a comeback as Hyderabad edged away to a 83-79 win.
Players of the game: Tevin Kelly (International), Joginder Singh (Indian)
Hyderabad Sky (Tevin Kelly 37 pts, Mahesh Padmanabhan 17 pts, Joginder Singh 11 pts) bt Chennai Slam 83-79 (Rikin Pethani 27 pts, Ram Kumar 21 pts, Cammy 13 pts)