Punjab Steelers beat Chennai Slam in a thriller to keep championship hopes alive

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30th July – Balewadi Stadium, Pune: Punjab Steelers showed great determination and fighting spirit as they defeated Chennai Slam 83-81 in the second game on Saturday afternoon to keep their hopes of clinching the UBA Pro Basketball League championship alive.

Punjab Steelers’ Kaushal was named the player of the match for his pivotal role while Agu was the top player for Chennai Slam with 27 points.

Chennai Slam sped to a lead of 8 points at the start but Punjab Steelers managed to get back into the game after losing the momentum early on. They managed to take the lead once but Chennai Slam took the lead once again in the closing stages of the first quarter as they led 21-20.

Chennai Slam took seven points from turnovers in the first quarter compared to Punjab’s two while Punjab Steelers had six second chance points compared to Chennai’s nil.

The second quarter belonged to Punjab as they took the game to their opponents and established a 10 point lead (35-25) midway into the quarter. Kaushal was the key player for Punjab in this quarter as Chennai Slam’s Gopal struggled with an injury.

At halftime, Punjab Steelers’ managed to take a lead of two points (40-38). Agu and Cammy scored 11 points each for Chennai Slam while Garry and Kaushal were pivotal in keeping Punjab’s hopes alive.

In the third quarter, Punjab established their dominance and didn’t allow their focus to waver as they kept picking up points and maintained a healthy lead. The quarter finished 66-58 in their favour and they needed to maintain this form if they needed to take the championship series into the third game.

The fourth quarter was played at a hectic pace and Chennai Slam, thanks to Agu’s lively display, were able to trim the lead to tow points when the first time-out of the quarter was taken. With a little over five minutes left, both the teams were tied at 71-71 and the match was poised for a thrilling finish.

It was end to end action as both teams went for the kill and with just over two minutes left, Punjab Steelers had managed to regain the lead with the score reading 78-77.

In the end, Punjab players were able to cling on to their slender lead and the two teams clash again on Sunday to decide the winners of season three of the UBA Pro Basketball League.

Meanwhile, Narender Grewal of Pune Peshwas has been named as the Most Valuable Player of the third season.  Narender set a new UBA single season scoring mark by averaging 31.8 points per game. Narender won the scoring title by more than nine points per game.

In wins over Bengaluru Beast and Hyderabad Sky, Narender scored 28 and 27 points respectively, leading his team to the post-season for the second consecutive time. His 26 points in the South Division Play-In game helped the Peshwas reach the UBA semi final series from the South, but a knee injury in that win forced him to miss Game One of the semifinals.

Punjab Steelers 83 & Chennai Slam 81 

Punjab Steelers 83
 (Akhilesh 19, Garry14, Kaushal 14) Chennai Slam 81  (Agu 27, Cammy 18, Ram 14)