Former champions, Chennai Slam were off to a good start as they beat Pune Peshwas 98-91 to take 1-0 lead in the best of the three semifinals of the UBA Professional Basketball League, at the badminton hall, Balewadi sports complex in Pune on Monday.
The eight points difference in the third quarter saw Chennai stamp their authority in the match with their last minute slamming. Jairam (29) and Ram Kumar (22) lead the assault on hosts Pune sharing the spoil while, the ever depending Agu played his role as Chennai were home 98-91 as it is advantage Chennai in the best of the three encounter.
Agu five points in 20 seconds and a three-pointer by Carmel Cammy saw former champions Chennai race to an 89-85 scoreline, V Das three points brought back the hosts in the game, but again the Chennai struck back with Jairam and G Ram doing the damages to the Pune basket with four points (93-89) in the last minute of play.
Cammy came up with the two-point jump shot, and Ram Kumar converting two free throws as the final nail on the Pune coffin was struck in the first of the best of three encounter, to take a 1-0 lead en route to the final, which would be Chennai's second in the three seasons.
Abhishek Y P and Ajinkya Mane did their best for Pune with the home crowd in full attendance at the venue, cheering the home team.
Chennai did have injury worries with both Muralinath Vignesh and Sampath Vignesh on the injury list, while Pune had a major setback as their main scorer Narendra Grewal was out of action due to (right) knee injury.
Pune showed guts making a comeback after being seven points behind in the first quarter garnering 23 points compared to Chennai’s just 18 points. However, lack of seasoned campaigners in their side they succumbed to a side which has very good players in the likes of Agu Jairam to name a few.
“It was the sheer defensive lapses which saw them take more points than us in the second session,” said Prasanna Jayaprakash, the Chennai coach.
“The absence of a player who scores over 25 points in each game’s absence made the difference for us,” Pune coach Ram Kumar about their main player Narendra Grewal who has been ruled out of action due to a knee injury.
However, coach Ram Kumar was sceptical about Narendra’s presence in the match tomorrow. “ we want him but it all depends on the doctors report, the sad thing about Narendra who was not able to bend his knee.”
Result: Chennai Slam 98 (Jairam 29, Ram Kumar 25, Carmel Cammy 17, Agu 15) bt Pune Peshwas 91 (Abhishek Y P 24, Ajinkya Mane 22)