UBA: Bengaluru Beast impresses after taking out Pune Peshwas in a nail-biter
Bengaluru best opened their accounts in their first match of the UBA after taking down the home team Pune Peshwas 85-78 in probably the best match of the tournament so far. Railways shooter Somveer scored 27 points for the Beast and Visu Palani was second best with 17 points. For the Peshwas, it was Narender who impressed with 21 points, Siddhanth Shinde and Ajinkya Mane scored 16 and 13 points respectively.
Shouts of “Shivaji Maharaj ki Jai” filled the Sri Chhatrapati Shivaji arena when Pune Peshwas entered the court and the home team didn’t disappoint after starting the game strongly against a Bengaluru Beast side who clearly looked under pressure.
The pressure from the home crowd saw Bengaluru missing 7 consecutive free throws before scoring their eight. Pune’s defence was exceptional in the early instances of the game as they took an early eight-point lead with scorecard reading 15-7. National level players in Ravi Kumar and Narendar Grewal impressed early on for the Peshwas.
With two minutes remaining in the 1st quarter Bengaluru slowly started to consolidate and close the gap. From 19-12 down the Beast scored six consecutive points to make it 18-19. The moment Bengaluru started taking the initiative, Pune’s Siddhanth Shinde rose the highest to hit a fantastic three which not only lifted the crowd, but brought Pune back on top again. By the end of the first quarter Pune had a slender lead of 3 points.
Bengaluru started to hit all the right notes in the 2nd quarter taking the lead for the first time when Manjeet from the Beast hit a three with the score card reading 29-28. Bengaluru’s core team that consisted of Jain players from Bengaluru started to hugely impress as the game progressed. Kaife Azam Zia was instrumental in the comeback and he backed superbly by Income Tax employee Visu Palani.
With six minutes remaining in the second quarter it was neck to neck as every Pune basket was followed by a Bengaluru one. It so happened when Pune’s satr player from last year Ajinkya Mehta scored three, it was followed by another one from Bengaluru’s best player of the day, Azam Zia. After Half time the score read 42-40 with Pune having the slender lead.
The intensity of the game went a notch higher in the second half, but neither team lead by more than 4 points in the opening six minutes of the 3rd quarter. Ajinkya Mane of the Peshwas with his excellent work rate excelled for the home team with his quick feet and excellent dribbling. At one stage Pune lead 52-48 as Mane ran the whole court to hit an excellent basket. The third quarter ended 60-59 and the game was heading into an interesting finish.
Bengaluru took the early initiative in the fourth quarter as the crowd felt silent for a brief period of time when the home team looked under pressure. With the score 64-61, Bengaluru took an important 3 point lead in the game, and the Pune crowd felt silent. Peshwas head coach Nandu Mehta felt the pressure and immediately brought on star player Narendar Grewal into the pitch.
With 7 minutes left in the game, Bengaluru had a crucial 4 point lead, but Pune’s national level representative Shinde had other ideas. First he scored a brilliant basket to cut Bengaluru’s lead to 2 and then he levelled things up scoring another two from a rebound of a shot he missed. Shinde was in the thick of things again after scoring a fantastic layup which also resulting in a foul on him. He scored the resulting free throw and Pune lead 71-10.
The tension levels rose as the game headed to the final 2 minutes left and the scores were tied at 74-74. Bengaluru then took the game away from the Peshwas with 4 consecutive points and the pressure was on the home side again. With 80-76 and Pune trailing, veteran player Ravi Kumar missed from close range with plenty of time to shoot and the clock only had 37 seconds remaining.
Bengaluru Beast registered their opening victory
Pune never recovered from that miss and eventually lost their way and the match to a brilliant Bengaluru side. The final score read 85-78 and the Bengaluru Beast registered their opening victory against last year’s finalist Pune Peshwas.
Azam Zia who hugely impressed for the Beast was glad that they passed the first test “I’m glad we took the first step and won this game, and from now on we are going to nail it in the tournament” he told Sportskeeda.
“We were getting used to the players who were new to our team and once we did that everything went our way.”
Although he impressed he said that he wasn’t at his best “I don’t think I played well today, and I think I could play much better than I did today” he concluded.