Specttrum News: Displaying grit and an urge to win at any cost, Mumbai Challengers defeated Punjab Steelers 96-93 in a thrilling game in the UBA Pro Basketball League, season 3 on Wednesday afternoon.
Mumbai rode on Jagdeep's superlative performance (27 points) as the Punjab Steelers failed to maintain their perfect record in the championship allowing the Mumbai Challengers to notch up their first win.
Punjab Steelers took to the game in an attacking fashion and established their intentions of grabbing the initiative in the first quarter. But Akhilesh Kumar of Punjab Steelers had to leave the game within the first four minutes owing to two offensive fouls.
Punjab Steelers finished the first quarter leading 25-17 and Mumbai Challenger's star player Gagandeep also became ineffective after a bright start.
Mumbai Challenger's players were feeling the heat as they committed five fouls on Punjab Steelers in the first quarter. But Punjab Steeler's Bunty also picked up his second foul and that could have posed them problems later in the game.
The second quarter saw Mumbai come out spiritedly and Jagdeep was in the thick of things, making some crucial blocks. Mumbai cut the lead to three points when the game went to time-out with the score reading 34-31 in Punjab's favour and immediately after resumption, the scores were level.
Mumbai Challengers then took the lead for the first time in the game and Punjab Steelers were now on the backfoot, stung by the sudden swing in momentum as the Mumbai Challengers looked desperate to register their first win of the championship.
Mumbai finished the third quarter leading Punjab Steelers 51-42 and the intent was clear with Gagandeep, Pruthvi and Jagdeep scoring 11 points each.
Mumbai Challengers were also the better team in turnovers (4-0) and second-chance points (12-2), also converted 11 of 17 free throws, while the Punjab Steelers were left to wonder what hit them.
In the third quarter, Punjab Steelers tried to get back into the game with their star player Garry trying his best to overturn the deficit for his team. It yielded the desired result for Punjab as they levelled the scores at 66-66 with 50 seconds to go in the third quarter.
Mumbai Challengers managed to regain the lead at the end of the third quarter with the score reading 71-70.
Both the sides were unwilling to flinch in the final quarter and it made for some fascinating viewing with some end to end action. But Punjab's Sagar scored some crucial points to get his team ahead.
But a late surge by the Mumbai Challengers's, especially Jagdeep, saw them prevail over the Punjab Steelers in the end. (Inputs from Kulbir Singh Kalsi)