An NBA game in India - what looked like a distant dream until a few years ago, turned into reality on Friday when the Sacramento Kings played Indiana Pacers in a pre-season fixture at a packed NSCI Dome in Mumbai.
Indiana Pacers emerged victorious on the evening as it claimed a stunning 132-131 triumph over the Sacramento Kings in overtime and the tall and suave stars from both the teams -- who you may have so far seen only on television -- showed glimpses of their brilliance as they enthralled the crowd.
Coming into the first-ever pre-season fixture in India, Kings’ coach Luke Walton had stated that both teams would display high-quality basketball. And his team played to its potential, seizing control of the game from the first quarter to take a 39-29 lead.
Even though Indiana Pacers fought back in the second quarter, the Kings made it a point to ensure that there was no change in the script. With its owner, Mumbai-born Vivek Ranadive in attendance, Kings paced up its play and clinched the second quarter 33-30.
However, things changed completely in the last two quarters as Indiana Pacers came from from behind to put the pressure back on Sacramento Kings. What looked like an uphill task for Indiana Pacers at one point of time -- facing a deficit of 20 points at a stage -- was made gettable by forwards Domantas Sabonis and TJ Warren as they helped Indiana Pacers clinch the third quarter 33-25. This was followed by a score of 26-21 in the final leg.
With the scores level at 118 at the end of regulation time, an additional time of five minutes were played and Indiana Pacers managed to pull it off, despite the Sacramento Kings remaining in close pursuit.
- Fans lovin' it -
Nearly 3,000 youngsters from the Reliance Foundation Junior NBA programme had come to cheer for the teams and the youngsters had a gala time. Bollywood stars Sonam Kapoor, Rahul Bose, Saiyami Kher were also present.
The players, on their part, kept the fans entertained -- both on and off the court. After fascinating them with their breath-taking performances on the court, Malcolm Brogdons and De’Aaron Foxs even tapped their feet as popular Hindi numbers and Punjabi bhangra played in the backdrop.
Before coming to India, the Kings and Pacers players had promised to make the weekend special for Indian fans. And true to their words, the first day, first show was a big hit!
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