United Basketball Alliance: Delhi Capitals beat Punjab Steelers to get their campaign off to a winning start
The Delhi Capitals got off to a rousing start with a 69-57 verdict against the Punjab Steelers, in the opening encounter of the United Basketball Alliance Pro League Basketball tournament, at the basketball court, in Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune on Thursday.
Punjab, who reached the semifinals last year began well in the first quarter but were crushed by the one-man army named Sachin Sharma who propelled the Delhi cagers,. after a slow start.
An Income Tax employee, by profession, Sachin was all over the court. His mesmerising tackling tactics and the exceptional control over the ball caught the rival players off guard.
“It was my dad who taught me to play and from him. I have learnt the game. He did tell me before I left for Pune to be aggressive but not to jump the gun when it comes to the laws of the game,” said Sachin, who was off court for few minutes due to injury.
Delhi was the first to find the target when Raj Aditya leaped, before finding the basket. They did maintain the slight edge before they succumbed to the onslaught by Punjab who after trailing 15-22 at one stage were on even terms 28-28. This was where they changed the game and dominated for the next 30-odd minutes. They led 40-33 at the end of the second quarter of the game.
It wasn't all smooth sailing for Delhi as they failed to convert rebounds and their tactics of checking went wayward. It was the lanky Taj Sandhu who held the fort for the Punjab cagers as he defended well and his rebound collections added to their woes of the opponents.
Delhi slowly made their way into the game by picking up points at regular intervals and got back into the game at the end of the third quarter, when the teams were locked at 50-50.
‘They are good but they failed to capitalise on the early lead, on the other hand, we played a better understanding game and the pep talk during the break made the difference,’ said Sachin.
Delhi hit back in the nick of time, and in the last quarter, they were all over their opponents and raced to a six-point lead (58-52) within a minute into the quarter. This move signed off their arrival off Delhi in this Big league. ‘Yes, once we got the lead we played according to the game plan and things worked well for us,’ said Sachin.
That was the end for last year’s semifinalists Punjab as they were left wanting in all aspects on the court and Delhi dented into their citadel to take a ten-point lead with four minutes to go for the final whistle.
It was all over for Punjab, as Delhi dunked their final punch with Ajay picking up a three- pointer and with vociferous crowd backing them to the hilt, Delhi beat Punjab to get their campaign off to a good start.