Originally posted on 30 Dec, 2017 on www.ubaindia.com
Watch UBA Chairman Tommy Fisher talk about how the game is going to be raised once again in UBA Season 5 with the best Indian basketball players in the world playing in the UBA.
Looking at what the upcoming UBA Season 5 is going to be like, it is hard to think that it has just been two years since UBA tipped off in India. The first UBA game was played on 17th July 2015, and in subsequent seasons the league has gone from strength to strength, growing exponentially every season. There was an enormous improvement from Season 3 to Season 4, with the addition of some more of India's best basketball players along with American players in the league. The system which the coaches had been putting in place truly came into its own with the players who could maximize it. And the upcoming Season 5 is going to blow that out of the water with the addition of some of the best Indian basketball players from around the world coming to shine in the UBA, along with more top talent from all over the world coming into the league including players from USA and Canada.
Here are excerpts from the video of UBA Chairman Tommy Fisher talking to Paul Crane, UBA VP Broadcasting.
Paul Crane: This league has come so far so fast, some thoughts on how you and league have raised the game
Tommy Fisher: I think there's just no comparison each year for where we started to where we are today. From what I'm seeing here in Phoenix with the addition of the NRIs and everything else. When we played last year, the game rose its level maybe 50% and I can easily see another 50% rise here so everybody that's left in the league really has to raise their game if they want to see playing time on the floor.
There are few better ways to get better in basketball than to compete with the best competition one can find. Looking at the play of the UBA players who have been in the league for multiple seasons and have stuck around thus far, one can see a marked improvement in their play. This is survival of the fittest at its finest, and the best part is that it helps the players in India raise their game to levels they had not fathomed. UBA Season 3 MVP Narender Grewal of Pune Peshwas echoed that sentiment, saying "You learn a lot playing with them (players from the USA). Defensively, you have to be a lot stronger. When you are guarding someone one-on-one, you have to work harder on defense. The competition is very strong, and you have to also get stronger. Here we have players who have played at a high level, if you can stop them and compete with them you feel a lot surer of your game also."
Paul Crane: I can remember being at the 2nd camp and you talking to the Indian players and saying that Americans and other international players are going to be coming to the league, it’s going to become tougher and tougher to keep your roster spots. The addition of the NRIs coming to the league as well, how much tougher is it going to be for the players to keep their roster spots and at the same time, how much better is the basketball going to be because of it?
Tommy Fisher: It's incredible. When the NRIs come from different parts of the world, they have the ability to play 12 months out of the year and it’s going to raise the game and it just ups the level. The boys in India now really have to step up and really dedicate themselves to training and their bodies have to become a pro machine basically.
There are restrictions on Indian origin players living abroad when it comes to them representing India, while there are a number of extremely skilled basketball players of Indian origin, they have lacked an opportunity to play in India and show their skills on a national stage in their home country. The UBA had three Indian origin players competing in past seasons with Mahesh Padmanabhan, Inderbir Gill, and Eban Hyams, the game is going to be raised even higher now with the addition of more Indian origin players coming to play in the UBA. These are some of the best Indian basketball players in the world who have played at a very high level in the USA and in other countries, and will finally get an opportunity to come to India to be a part of the highest standard of Indian basketball in the UBA.
Paul Crane: How about the young players and people in India that will be looking at the UBA now and seeing these NRIs and seeing players like Sukhpreet Singh, Harry Singh and Manvinder and Robbie Sihota, Indian players who come from other countries but they are Indians playing at such a high level.
Tommy Fisher: Oh unbelievable level. Even the American players said, 'Where did you find these guys?' The best players in the entire Indian population of the entire world will play for the UBA, that's my goal. My other goal is to give them the competition that they deserve to get the game at a top-level.
Sometimes all that a young kid needs to achieve a dream is a vision of it along with tangible proof that it is within his grasp. Young basketball players in India will be exposed to a whole new standard of basketball with the best basketball players in India, combined with the best Indian basketball players from abroad and top players from the USA and other countries competing HARD in UBA Season 5.
When the youth tune into their TV sets and watch Indian origin players play at a level which India has not seen before from Indians, it will ignite their dreams as they realize 'If they can do it, so can I.' Loveneet Atwal of Bengaluru Beast said as much, "The new Indian players from overseas, they are at the level of the American players. Looking at them, I thought that there is no difference between them and us. And if they can do it, so can I. If they can give such tough competition to the US players, then if I practice with them and like them, I can play like them."
Paul Crane: What do you see moving forward, certainly maybe in the next year or two, which I know can be tough because the last year or two have seen so many changes so quickly.
Tommy Fisher: People want to show their game, and this is a great platform to do it. Competition breeds competition. When you get better at anything, that wants everyone else to get better. But the bottom-line is that's the true meaning of sports, is raising your level and when you're truly great, you want to see how you measure up on a world stage, and that's what we are willing to offer.
UBA Season 4 saw the individual scoring record be broken on opening night, and it wasn't safe for a moment, being seemingly eclipsed nightly. The games came down to the wire as triple-digit score lines became the norm. The players pushed each other to great heights, with UBA's first triple-double being registered, and followed by another in almost the blink of an eye. The intensity of the basketball competition had never been higher in India than in UBA Season 4, and that was a result of the players pushing each other to heights which they would never have achieved individually. Come UBA Season 5, and the players will have an opportunity to compete on a world stage, with highly skilled players from all over the world coming to compete in the league.
Paul Crane: We know the entertainment on television, sports provide the greatest theater on earth, you never know what's going to happen in the end until it actually happens. And of course, the in-arena experience in the UBA, people have the time of their lives. As we take it one season at a time, what about Season 5, what are you looking to see more than anything else.
Tommy Fisher: Season 5, you're not gonna want to take your eyes off the TV. I've watched six games here (in the Million Rupees Challenge in the UBA US Pro Performance Camp) and every single play is competitive, you can't take your eyes off it. Sometimes in sports, you can watch a game for 15 minutes and not see an action play, here it is every 15 seconds guaranteed. And what you're gonna see in season 5, I think is going to knock your socks off. These guys play above the rim. They are physical, they are strong, of course, the addition of Satnam Singh, he brings a whole new game down low. It’s going to be entertaining. I'm really looking forward to it. And I'm really happy at the pace we are at right now and bright days ahead for the UBA I can tell you that.
Paul Crane: So there's little doubt. The best Indian players in the world are going to be playing in the UBA.
Tommy Fisher: Absolutely, not a doubt in my mind.
In the UBA, the pace of the game is unlike anything Indian basketball has seen, and it has grown to global standards to a point where the crowd is constantly a roaring crescendo raging on the bleachers, electrified and energized by the on-court play. The players know that they need to be at their absolute best every second they are on the floor, with the competition getting stronger and stronger, one cannot afford to be lax for even a millisecond on the floor.
The result is a dream for coaches, players and fans alike: highly skilled and motivated basketball players giving it their all and playing every game like it is their last, competing hard every possession, straining their sinews for every last inch to get ahead of the competition.
The goal, along with putting on the best basketball show in the country, is also to raise the game of Indian basketball. Mr. Fisher had earlier said, “When you have a league, a world league like we’re trying to do, but still it’s dominated by Indian players, the ultimate goal is to make India competitive on the world stage. I think the most important thing is pushing the boys of India to a higher level of competition than they’ve probably been able to achieve. The one thing that we have that I see is there’s heart and there’s effort and these players of India want to become better. They listen when the coaches talk to them. They want to become better basketball players. And so, we’re starting at something that’s pure that hopefully, we can make great.”
Basketball in India had been starved for a professional league, and the players were working jobs to support themselves while pursuing their dream in basketball. With the UBA having signed some of the top Indian basketball players to multi-year contracts, the players can now finally dedicate themselves full time to becoming the best basketball players they can be.
When UBA Season 5 tips off, it will jump start a basketball revolution in India the likes of which has never been seen or fathomed. When kids tune into their TV or phones and catch the highlights of Indian basketball players dunking the ball with authority, executing lightning-quick crossovers, and doing everything on the court like the best players from abroad, they will eagerly pick up a basketball and head on to the nearest court to try and be like these players. When the public at large witness the intense drama which Live basketball can create, they will fall in love with the sport and even more of them will wake up to how much fun basketball can be. When the best in India play with the best Indian players from abroad and American players, the combined energy will coalesce and elevate everyone's game that much higher, making for must-see television with India being exposed once again to the drama occurring in the air up there where the players fly on the court.
The game is about to be raised to a whole new level once again when UBA Season 5 tips off. Think of the move from peach baskets to nylon nets, think of the first time a player invented a jump shot, the first time Bill Russell began blocking shots, the first time Dirk Nowitzki jump-started the positional revolution, the first time that an Indian was drafted in the NBA.
Think Momentous. That is what Raising the Game is going to look like in UBA Season 5.