He was everywhere! Whether it was scoring baskets or grabbing rebounds, passing smart or stealing the ball, Captain P. Baladhaneshwar was in the thick of the action and with quality play too as Chennai Heat overcame a first-half setback to defeat Bengaluru Kings 79-66 in India’s opener. National Basketball League at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium here on Wednesday.
Bengaluru, who shocked the Chandigarh Warriors on Tuesday, thrived on rebounds and international Pratyanshu Tomar and captain Arvind Arumugam did a good job of thwarting numerous attempts by Chennai to help their side take a five-point lead in the middle of the first half.
But Chennai came back strong in the third quarter. He kept Bengaluru at bay with smart zone defense and a short time later two men scored Abhishek Gowda who drove in a three-point series against Chandigarh on Tuesday.
And Baladhaneshwar, 23, a former Indian youth captain, and Lokeswaran were on a free run, smartly dodging the defense and scoring at will. Chennai had a 14-point lead at the end of the third quarter and that served the team well in the end.
Chennai now has three wins from four matches while Bengaluru has two from four.
Meanwhile, the Kochi Tigers suffered a few jitters – they trailed 7-23 in the first quarter – before beating the Mumbai Tigers 70-57 and taking the lead in the six-team league with four wins in as many matches. after the penultimate day of action.
Chennai Heat 79 (P. Baladhaneshwar 31, Lokeshwaran 17, Muin Bek Hafeez 10) vs Bengaluru 66 (BK Anil Kumar 20, Pratyanshu Tomar 17, CR Abhishek Gowda 11).
Kochi Tigers 70 (Lalrina Renthlei 18, Jishnu V. Nair 17, Sejin Mathew 12) vs Mumbai Titans 57 (Sahaj R. Patel 13).
Chandigarh Warriors 81 (Gurbaz Singh Sandhu 23, Palpreet Singh Brar 20, Sahil 15, Lalit Pawdiya 11, Amarendra Nayak 10) bt Delhi Dribblers 67 (Mahipal Singh 18, Gaurav Chandel 17, Rishab Mathur 12, Piyush Meena 11).