Mumbai Challengers overcome Haryana Gold’s sharpshooting to win 123-110

 by, Siddarth Sharma, UBA Columnist

Chennai, 19th February, 2017: The Mumbai Challengers defeated the Haryana Gold behind Alex Scales’ 45 points. Mumbai had dropped 140 points in regulation in their first game, and they showed that their high-powered offense is here to stay with a convincing win in their second game.

Mumbai’s relentless attack put Haryana’s big men in foul trouble as Jaskaran and Akashdeep Hazra fouled out, resulting in a void in the paint which Mumbai took full advantage of to win the game. They fielded a starting lineup of Jagdeep Bains, Alex Scales, Inderbir Gill, Jimy Scroggins and Nikhil Kumar. They faced Haryana Gold’s Prakash, Jaskaran, Birender Singh, De’Sean Mattox and Eban Hyams in the starting lineup. 

The first quarter started off with both teams determined to make defence their calling card as both teams displayed an iron will to hold down the fort in the paint and multiple charges were drawn on either end. No drives inside were uncontested as attempts inside resulted in the offensive player flat on their back on the floor. Jagdeep started the first quarter by driving in with powerful strides and put up 8 points in a hurry. Haryana saw a three-pronged attack of Prakash Mishra, Jaskaran and De’Sean Mattox power their offense as the trio combined for 26 points in the first quarter.  

In the second quarter, Mumbai Challengers came out of the gate with fury as they quickly extended the lead to 12 points.  Alex had a beautiful drive along the baseline which seemed destined to result in a turnover, but he showed why he’s an ex-NBA player as he somehow managed to emerge from the other side of the basket and convert on a prayer.  Alex, Jimmy and Jagdeep had each scored in the double digits by the end of the first half, combining for 26 points. Haryana found themselves losing their big man Akashdeep and absence opened up the lane for Mumbai. The end of the second quarter saw Mumbai Challengers extend their lead to 63-50 over the Haryana Gold.

Coach’s Corner: At halftime, Riddhima Pathak spoke to the coaches and Mumbai’s coach Jora Singh as he observed how his team was able to keep the lead. He said, “Jeevanathan has done a good job down in the paint, and we have a high powered offense which we used to our advantage.” Coach Aaditya of Haryana stated at the half, “Our focus is not to stop Alex, we will just look to contain him. We forced him into a couple of turnovers in the first half, and we’ll look to continue pressuring him in the second.”

Mumbai started the third quarter looking to put the game away as they found contributions from Jeevanathan on both ends. Yadwinder Singh is known as a defensive specialist but he came out equally aggressive on offense in this game as he powered his way to the rim on multiple occasions and picked up 8 points from the free throw line for the Haryana Gold.  

Alex Scales came in with 38 points in his UBA debut in their first game, and he was in no mood to let off in the second game as he continued to flummox Haryana’s defence by attacking inside and out. For Haryana, Prakash Mishra was on fire from distance, taking full advantage of daylight in the corner to connect on a number of threes, opening up the lane for a stop and pop jumper. In the third, Jimmy threw down the hammer with a two handed jam, rousing the bench. Pune-born Eban Hyams responded by charging into the lane with vengeance and throwing down a one handed jam in answer as the crowd were treated to a jam-fest. He displayed his tenacity as he stripped the ball right out of Alex’s hands on a drive while De’Sean Mattox was on fire from downtown, finishing with 6 of 10 from three-point range for the game. Prakash Mishra drew a critical charge on Inderbir, showing valuable court presence on both ends of the floor. The end of the third quarter saw the Haryana Gold fight back to trim the lead to 97-87 behind Prakash Mishra’s 4 three pointers with only one miss. 

The fourth quarter saw Haryana’s gap in the paint turn into a gaping void as they were without Jaskaran and Akashdeep. For Mumbai, the lane resembled an open runway as they drove in with gusto and fed their shooters in the corners. They saw five of their players finish in double digits as they moved the ball well throughout the game, notching up 18 assists. Mumbai also out-rebounded Haryana 46-32.

For the game, Alex Scales scored 45 points without committing a single foul and Jimmy Scroggins had an all-round game with 19 points and 9 rebounds as they were able to take care of business and defeat the Haryana Gold, who shot 15 of 25 from three-point range. 

Players of the game: Alex Scales (International), Nikhil Kumar (Indian)

Mumbai Challengers (Alex Scales 45 pts, Jimmy Scroggins 19 pts, Jagdeep Bains 12 pts) bt Haryana Gold 123-110 (De’Sean Mattox 39 pts, Eban Hyams 19, Prakash Mishra 18 pts)