Large crowds of fans cheered on from the bleachers. Bollywood and TV celebrities watched from the sideline. And on the court, talented basketball players provided a unique stage never been set in India before.
The Universal Basketball Alliance - UBA India - brought together eight teams from around India for two weeks of this unique initiative, a short professional basketball league in a country that has never had an official pro league before. Tipped off on July 17, the participating teams came from Chennai, Pune, Punjab, Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Haryana, and the hosts Hyderabad to play in a round-robin fashion league before the knockout semi-final/final stage in the last two days.
Although Chennai and Pune had split their league games 1-1, the final was a completely one-sided affair. Chennai were precise and perfect, the exact opposite of some careless and nervous play displayed by their opponents, to take a 14-point lead at halftime and extended it 20 soon after to turn the game into a blowout early. When the dust settled, Chennai had won 81-49 and lifted the first-ever title at the inaugural league. The Slam's trio of the Nigerian Chukwunanu Agu (22), Bernette Carmel Joseph (21), and Ramkumar (19) did most of the scoring damage for the victors.
Winners Chennai Slam were awarded with a cash prize of INR 7 lakhs along with their gold medals. First runners up Pune Peshwas secured the silver medals and a cash prize of INR 3 lakhs. Haryana Gold won the 2nd runners up trophy owing to their superior league stage record over the Punjab Steelers.
The MVP of the tournament was Punjab Steelers forward Ravi Bhardwaj, who put up consistent numbers throughout the tournament. He won a Hyosung GTR superbike along with the MVP trophy.
- 1. Chennai Slam
- 2. Pune Peshwas
- 3. Haryana Gold
- TJ Sahi (Bengaluru Beast)
- Karan Joshua (Bengaluru Beast)
- Chukwunanu Agu (Chennai Slam)
- Ramkumar (Chennai Slam)
- Bernette Carmel Joseph (Chennai Slam)
- Birender Singh (Haryana Gold)
- Vikas Kumar (Haryana Gold)
- Rakesh Sangwan (Haryana Gold)
- Sartaj Sandhu (Punjab Steelers)
- Ravi Bhardwaj (Punjab Steelers) - MVP
- Karan Pal Singh (Mumbai Challengers)
- P. Vijay (Pune Peshwas)
- Ajinkya Mehta (Pune Peshwas)
- Ajinkya Mane (Pune Peshwas)
- Yudhvir Dahiya (Delhi Capitals)
- Arsh Deep Saini (Delhi Capitals)
- Aaditya Raj (Delhi Capitals)
- Nihal Yadav (Hyderabad Sky)
- Sujith Reddy (Hyderabad Sky)
This is still a league in its early stage, and most of the players who have been given an opportunity here have likely graduated up from the University league held by UBA India earlier. Still, it was a fun event and showcased that India has a lot more basketball to offer than the 'official' events governed by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI).