By Siddarth Sharma, UBA Columnist
Goa, 14th March 2017: Mumbai Challengers blitzed Bengaluru Beast with a 110-95 win to take a 1-0 lead in the UBA Season 4 Championship series finals (best-of-3). The UBA Season 4 championship series is being played at the Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Stadium in Goa from 10-16 March, 2017.
Mumbai Challengers arrived in the finals having finished with a 5-1 record in the league stages and having eliminated Punjab Steelers in the semi-finals. Bengaluru Beast had a 3-3 record in the regular season and they made it to the semi-finals after defeating Hyderabad Sky in the South Division play-in game. They swept Pune Peshwas in semi-finals to make it to the finals.
Benglaluru started with a lineup of Palpreet Brar, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Raghuram, Pratham Singh and Visu Palani. They faced Mumbai Challengers’ lineup of Alex Scales, Jimmy Scroggins, Nikhil, Jagdeep Bains and Inderbir Gill. While Chris Solomon didn’t start for Bengaluru, he was quick to substitute in the game in the first minute.
The teams started off with visible jitters as the turnovers piled on. Bengluru were cold from outside to start the game while Scales heated up with eight quick points as Mumbai led 11-6 halfway into the first quarter. Bengaluru looked to rally behind Vishesh’s drives and playmaking. Solomon hit a jumper with 5 seconds left but Scales connected on an incredible buzzer beater from near halfcourt to give Mumbai a 29-19 lead at the end of the first quarter. Mumbai were led by 15 points from Scales in the first quarter while Bengaluru were led by 7 points from Pratham.
Mumbai absolutely blitzed Bengaluru in the opening minutes of the second quarter, racing out to a 43-22 lead in the first four minutes of the second behind spirited play from Jagdeep. Mumbai were red hot as they shot 8-14 from three point range in the first half, while Bengaluru weren’t helped by their cold shooting from three-point range as they shot a paltry 3-16 in the same time. Mumbai had two players in double figures in the first half with Scales scoring 21 points and Scroggins adding 20 at the half. Bengaluru were led by 14 points from Solomon and 10 points from Pratham. Mumbai led Bengaluru 58-36 at halftime.
Bengaluru came out with a sense of desperation in the second half as they looked to attack the rim with vigour. In spite of Vishesh, Kaif and Pratham scoring inside on a series of possessions, Mumbai maintained a 87-52 lead after five minutes into the third quarter as they played with pace while zipping the ball around to involve the entire team. At the end of the third quarter, Mumbai led 89-60 over Bengaluru. Mumbai ended the 3rd quarter with a 29 point lead, while Scales had 29 points for Mumbai alone.
Bengaluru attempted to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter as Jaipal Mann and Visu hit a couple of three pointers, but Mumbai kept them at bay by answering right back. Bengaluru did manage to cut the lead to 9 points with 2:07 left in the game, but Inderbir shut the door on their comeback as Mumbai held on to a 110-95 win.
Players of the Game: Alex Scales (International), Jagdeep Bains (Indian)
Mumbai Challengers (Alex Scales 34 pts, Jimmy Scroggins 32 pts, Inderbir Gill 18 pts) bt 110-95 Bengaluru Beast (Chris Solomon 28 pts, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 19 pts, Pratham Singh 14 pts)