Pune Peshwas play dominant defence to hold off Chennai Slam 83-71
Chennai, 18th February, 2017: Pune Peshwas faced Chennai Slam in the second game of the day’s double-header as both teams looked to continue their win streak in UBA Season 4. Pune Peshwas featured a starting lineup of Pierre Newton, Amritpal Singh, Siddhant Shinde, Ajinkya Mehta and Narender Grewal. Chennai fielded Agu Chukwunanu, Ram Kumar, Rikin Pethani, Ashutosh Rai, and Jairam Jat.
Pune Peshwas were coming off a win over the Hyderabad Sky while being shorthanded by the absence of Siddhant, Ajinkya and Pradeep Chauhan. This contest saw Chennai Slam’s Brendon Pineda-Morales sustain an ankle injury while warming up. He left on a wheelchair and returned more promptly than Paul Pierce but he spent the game on the bench, cheering his team on.
The match started off with a powerful dunk by Amritpal as Narendra and Jairam exchanged threes. Cammy floated a difficult tear-drop shot over Amritpal’s outstretched hands. Amritpal got him right back on the other end by backing his way in with a step through post move.
This match featured a duel between two of India’s most talented big men in Amritpal Singh and Rikin Pethani, and the twin towers did not disappoint as they went at each other colliding like titans. The first quarter saw some spirited defence being played by both teams and proved to be low scoring affair.
The big man Amritpal swished in a three to start the second quarter and Rikin responded with a hook shot. Agu finally got on the scoreboard in the second quarter, but he was deterred from attacking the rim by the presence of Amritpal. Anjinkya had a gorgeous finish in the open court for Pune and Hemant dropped in a jumper for distance to put Pune up 34-19. While Agu may have dropped 50 in the season opener, Pune seemed determined as a team to put the clamps on him, restricting him to single digits in the early goings. Anjinkya had a gorgeous finish in the open court for Pune and Hemant dropped in a jumper for distance and Pune continued their onslaught to finish the half leading 43-29.
At halftime, Coach Ram Kumar was pleased at having his game-plan to contain Agu work so well. He told Riddhima Pathak, “We prepared to stop Agu mostly on layups so we are letting him have the shots on the perimeter but we have sharp defenders on the perimeter and we have Amritpal on inside making it difficult for him. Amritpal is doing it all on both ends.” On the other end, Chennai coach Prasanna said, “Agu Is thinking too much, he just needs to relax and play his natural game.”
Chennai came out in the third quarter looking to flip the script of the game. They attacked with purpose and trimmed the lead behind Rikin and Agu opening up the floor for the team. Vignesh of Chennai had a couple of sneaky steals giving Chennai extra possessions. Agu drove in with his head down and gained two points when Amritpal goaltended his attempt and Chennai cut the lead to single digits as they trailed 51-42.
Narendra showed why he was the MVP and scoring champion as he turned on the jets to zoom into the lane for quick points. Vignesh displayed fiery determination on defence as he notched up five steals. Agu hit a buzzer beater with a long jumper as Chennai cut the lead to 64-55 to end the third quarter. Whatever coach Prasanna told her team at halftime certainly worked as Chennai had 28 points in the third quarter.
Chennai’s strong play continued in the fourth but Ajinkya gave them all they could handle and Pune maintained their lead. Amritpal continued holding down the fort for Pune and Chennai seemed flummoxed at the prospect of scoring on him. On the other end of the floor, Pune had some potent guards in their backcourt who used the presence of Amritpal inside to find gaps to score.
Ultimately though, it wasn’t enough as Pune held on to win it all behind Amritpal’s dominant performance on both ends.
Players of the game: Pierre Newton (International), Amritpal Singh (Indian)
Pune Peshwas (Ajinkya Mane 15, Narender Grewal 13, Amritpal Singh 12, Pierre Newton 12) bt 83-71 Chennai Slam (Rikin Pethani 21, Agu Chukwunanu 15, Jairam Jat 10)