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United Basketball Alliance (UBA) gears up for Season 2 of India’s first professional basketball league, with selection tryouts in Bengaluru
195 talented cagers from all over India attended the tryouts, held at Jain International School, in the outskirts of the city.
Foreign trainers from the US, along with highly respected senior Indian coaches, have been evaluating the players on a number of parameters by putting them through a series of gruelling sessions.
After selection camp and team training in Bengaluru, the newly formed squads will travel to Pune for the first phase of the Pro League, to be held at the Chhattrapati Shivaji sports complex in Balewadi from 18th to 28th February. The second & final phase will be held at the Gachibowli Stadium in Hyderabad between 23rd March and 3rd.
UBA Season 2 will be telecast live on Ten Sports, another first in the history of Indian basketball.
Former India International Ajay Pratap Singh in action.
Bengaluru, 9th February 2016: You could hear it even before you could see it: the sound of close to 200 pairs of basketball sneakers on state-of-the-art indoor flooring, accompanied by sharp whistles, loud shouts and grunts. Upon entering the aptly named “Collesseum” at the Jain International Residential School on Kanakapura Road on the outskirts of the city, the palpable tension in the air was immediately apparent.
The UBA Pro Basketball League, which is India’s first professional basketball league, is readying up for its second season, seven months after the inaugural edition in Hyderabad last July. Word of the Pro League has organically spread, and the sizeable turnout was a clear indication that UBA Season 2, to be held in two phases from 18th to 28th February 2016 in Pune, followed by phase 2 in Hyderabad (21st March to 3rd April), promises to be bigger, better and grander in every which way.
Having the league in two phases allows more fans to witness the star players in action, and also gives teams time to prepare and strategise for the second phase. The eight teams from last year— Pune Peshwas, Hyderabad Sky, Chennai Slam, Punjab Steelers, Bengaluru Beast, Delhi Capitals, Haryana Gold and Mumbai Challengers— are back again this time around. The teams will be divided into North and South divisions, and each team will play four games: three against their division opponents and one cross-division match.
“Season 1 was about exploring possibilities and seeing what we could do to create opportunities for players,” said UBA India Director Deepesh Solanki. “Now that a platform has been built, the next step is to successfully implement what we have planned.”
“We are happy to see that kids are finally dreaming of being pros and having their own Indian basketball heroes to look up to. Instead of following Lebron they will now start idolising Jagdeep Singh Bains.”
Bains, a former India star and mentor to Satnam Singh, is the perfect example of the resurrecting force of the UBA. Apart from Bains, over a dozen junior, current senior and former senior international players are looking to extend their careers by participating in these tryouts.
Professionally conducted tryouts
UBA coaches assessing the players
By the players’ own admission, the tryouts themselves have been an eye-opener. “On the very first morning they tested our vertical leap, lateral quickness, and explosiveness over 30 meters,” said Hrishikesh Naidu, a city based baller hoping to return to Bengaluru Beast.
“The tryouts have been physically taxing, but very systematically done,” said Sagar Joshi, a junior India basketballer from West Bengal, vying for his first experience of professional hoops action.
With 195 ballers fighting for 90 spots in the eight city based franchises, competition is fierce.
“We have decided to reopen all the spots on the eight teams to give a fair chance to every athlete and for the coaches to take a good look at them.” said Mr Solanki, UBA Director. “We have been getting flooded with requests from players to join the tryouts— over 400 calls — but we could admit only around 200.”
Seasoned Indian Coaches for franchises
The coaches of last year’s finalist teams, Pune Peshwas and Chennai Slam, have been retained, and six new coaches for the remaining franchises will be hired.
Prasanna Jayasankar, Shiba Maggon, Anthony PC, CV Sunny and Sunny Thomas are few of the respected Indian coaches roped in as part of the long term player development programmes, to ensure players are in top shape from one season to next.
“In my experience of over 30 years in basketball, this is the first time open tryouts have been held. All the boys are getting good opportunity. Anybody can come and give their best. From Indian players, to school kids, all are participating. Compared to last year, the talent pool this time around is much better,” said Ms Jayasankar, a former Indian women’s team captain and longstanding coach.
About the UBA Pro Basketball League
The UBA Pro Basketball League is structured on a league cum knockout basis. The inaugural Pro League was held between 17th to 30th July at the Gachibowli Multipurpose Indoor stadium in Hyderabad that was specially refurbished for this event. There were eight teams in total: Pune Peshwas, Delhi Capitals, Haryana Gold, Punjab Steelers, Chennai Slam, Mumbai Challengers, Bengaluru Beast and Hyderabad Sky. Chennai Slam won the championship with Pune Peshwas finishing second. Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and actors from the Telugu and Hindi film industries were in attendance at various stages of the two week long sportainment gala.
About United Basketball Alliance India Pvt. Ltd.
The United Basketball Alliance (UBA India) is a next-generation sports branding company. Its main objective is to make sport brands mean something to their sport viewers. To do that, UBA helps brands connect with viewers by providing insight-driven ideas across all media platforms. In addition to the its Pro Basketball League, UBA India has acquired the broadcast, merchandise and sponsorship rights to the existing, and self-governing Indian University Basketball Program. The UBA has already secured primetime television broadcasting arrangements, and is securing corporate sponsorships for the league, and creating merchandising opportunities.