By Siddarth Sharma, UBA Columnist
Chennai, 28th February 2017: The shorthanded Pune Peshwas mounted a successful comeback as they defeated the Hyderabad Sky 106-102. Both teams came into this match with a 3-2 record, and the winner of this match would top the division and head to Goa for the semi-finals while the losing team would have to compete in a play-in game to get to the semi-finals.
Both teams came into this match with a 3-2 record, and the winner of this match would top the division and head to Goa for the semi-finals while the losing team would have to compete in a play-in game to get to the semi-finals.
Pune were without the presence of star centre Amritpal Singh and coach Ram Kumar as they had personal commitments to attend to. Pune Peshwas started with a lineup of Gaurav Ohlan, Siddhant Shinde, Narender Grewal, and Arshpreet Bhullar. They faced Hyderabad’s lineup of Mahesh Padmanabhan, Tevin Kelly, Mak Boskailo, Joginder Singh and Manu Thomas.
Pierre Newton hit the first field goal for Pune with a three pointer, and Mahesh answered him right back. Capitalizing on the absence of Amritpal in the Paint, Tevin Kelly drove in for two. Arshpreet hit his fourth three pointer of the season to give Pune a 9-6 lead. Narender added two off an offensive rebound to increase their lead to 11-6. Mahesh cut into it with his first three pointer. He soon assisted Agosh to tie the game at 11. Agosh was assisted by Kelly for another easy one inside. Kelly hit a three and Newton answered with a jumper inside. Kelly drove into the paint for two and Newton poured in another jumper which was answered by Kelly. Shinde hit a three to tie the game at 22 and Narender’s free throws pushed the lead to 24-22 in favour of Pune the end of the first quarter. Even though Pune were without Amritpal, Hyderabad chose to attempt 10 three pointers in the first quarter while converting two of them. They were led by 13 points from Kelly, and only three players scored for Hyderabad in the first quarter, whereas five players scored for Pune.
The opening minutes of the second quarter resembled a track meet as both teams grinded hard to get hunt for layups. At the halfway mark in the quarter Kelly and Joginder hit a pair of 3s bring Hyderabad within 37-36. Narender stepped up in by zooming ahead for layups on the break. Pune pushed ahead to their largest lead of the half at 48-40 with less than two minutes left, but Joginder hit a three to cut their lead. Narender converted an and-one play. Joginder hit his fourth three pointer of the quarter to end the half. Pune led Hyderabad 51-46 at halftime. They were led by 20 points from Kelly, 12 from Joginder and five each from Mahesh and Mak. Pune got double digit contributions from Newton and Narender as they combined for 35 points in the first half. The two teams combined for 30 three point attempts in the first half.
The teams started the second half by attempting to work the ball inside as the teams exchanged layups. Shinde added five quick points for Pune and Mahipal knocked down a three pointer to answer as Pune tried to hold on to a slim lead 68-63 lead with three minutes left in the quarter. Newton and Kelly entered into a duel as both looked to charge with a head full of steam to the rim on multiple possessions. Hyderabad led Pune 78-77 at the end of the third quarter behind 29 points from Tevin Kelly, while Pune had Newton putting on an all-round performance with 30 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists.
Kelly started the fourth quarter with a crowd pleasing dunk off a bounce pass to himself and he was quick to add two on a layup by twisting around the defence. Hyderabad raced out to a 94-86 lead behind free throws from Kelly with five minutes left in the game as Pune frantically looked to reduce the deficit. The last few minutes were frantic as Pune tied the game at 94, Kelly untied it with a 3 and Narender tied it again with a 3 with less than 3 minutes left in the game. Mahipal hit a jumper to give Hyderabad a 2 point lead but Narender and Newton snatched a 2 point lead for Pune with 1:23 remaining. Kelly hit a clutch three to give Hyderabad a 1 point lead but Newton snatched it right back by attacking the rim as Pune took the lead for good with free throws from Narender and Newton. Their comeback was successful as they pulled away to a 106-102 win.
Players of the game: Pierre Newton (International), Narender Grewal (Indian)
Pune Peshwas (Pierre Newton 41 pts, Narender Grewal 29 pts, Siddhant Shinde 18 pts) bt 106-102 Hyderabad Sky (Tevin Kelly 45 pts, Mahipal Singh 18 pts, Joginder Singh 15 pts)