By Siddarth Sharma, UBA Columnist
Chennai, 25th February, 2017: Delhi Capitals overcome Dermaine Crockrell’s 44 points to defeat the Punjab Steelers 97-90 behind Ronald March’s 33. With this win, Delhi clinched their spot for the play-in game to contend for the trophy.
Delhi fielded a starting lineup of Anil, Ronald March, Ajay Pratap, Smithin and Vinay Kaushik. Punjab started off with Garry, Akilan Pari, Rajveer, Dermaine Crockrell and Kaushal. Punjab kicked things off as Crockrell stormed into the lane for a double clutch layup while being fouled. Rajveer added a couple with a high bank shot. Delhi raced out to a 16-10 lead with 4:34 left in the first as Amjyot Singh entered the game for the first time. Crockrell and Amjyot exchanged three pointers to bring the score to 28-21with Delhi leading. March twisted his ankle on a drive and headed to the bench but he was quick to return. Crockrell spent the quarter soaring into the paint above outstretched hands for layups. Delhi led Punjab 28-25 at the end of the first quarter. They were led by March and Amjyot as the duo had 8 points each. Punjab was led by 12 points from Crockrell.
To start the second quarter, Punjab took a 31-30 lead on Crockrell’s layup in the open court as Delhi called a timeout to halt their run. Vinay Kaushik picked up his third foul but stayed on the court. Amjyot picked up his third foul in the second quarter but stayed on the floor. Garry had a couple of and-one conversions in this contest his size and vertical leap gave Delhi fits. The teams exchanged leads as neither could build up a comfortable cushion. Crockrell found a couple of his attempts inside blocked by a leaping Ronald March as Punjab went into halftime with a 48-45 lead over Delhi. Delhi had a well-rounded offense as three of their players had scored in double digits at halftime with Anil, March and Amjyot combining for 33 points. Punjab was propelled by the dynamic Crockrell’s 20 points along with 11 from Garry.
Delhi came storming out in the third quarter and tied the game at 53. Crockrell took it upon himself to be a spark plug as he sunk a well-contested three pointer. Garry picked up where he had left off in the first half by taking the ball inside with aggression. Delhi inched away to a 64-60 lead as Crockrell’s free throws reduced the deficit. Ronald March gave signs of heating up as he converted a difficult turnaround fadeaway. Muin Bek of Delhi added key buckets as Delhi built up a 75-64 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Crockrell opened the fourth quarter by challenging March inside for two and the latter responded with an effortless three pointer. Delhi got two more in transition as Crockrell answered with a jumper. Amjyot got his 20th point as Delhi extended their lead to 82-68. March played the role of facilitator as he hit teammates in good spots for easy buckets. Amjyot employed his long reach to finish inside as Delhi kept a double digit lead as the clock ticked away. Crockrell displayed his trademark resiliency as he hit a three to bring Punjab within 86-78 with 4 minutes left in the game. March and Amjyot added a pair of buckets to stave Punjab off as they pulled away to a 97-90 win.
Players of the Game: Ronald March (International), Amjyot Singh (Indian)
Delhi Capitals (Ronald March 33 pts, Amjyot Singh 24 pts, Anil 16 pts) bt Punjab Steelers 97-90 (Dermaine Crockrell 44 pts, Garry Gill 21 pts, Kaushal 6 pts)