By Siddarth Sharma, UBA Columnist
The adage that records are meant to be broken has been taken to the next level in the UBA Pro Basketball League Season 4. We knew that the influx of some of Indian basketball's biggest stars and ten USA international basketball players would raise the game, what we didn't know and couldn't foresee was how high. The question has been answered in the regular season of UBA Season 4. Records have been broken, shattered and annihilated. Double digit leads have evaporated in less than a minute and legends have been born in the jam-packed Sathyabama University Stadium in Chennai. The season has been a breathless rollercoaster ride thus far and there's plenty of basketball yet to be played.
Speaking of players from the Indian national team making their UBA debut, three names rise above the rest. Indian basketball's Big 3 of Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Amritpal Singh and Amjyot Singh have taken the league by storm, with each player putting up monster debuts. Here's a look at how they have fared in their debut games in the UBA:
1) Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (Bengaluru Beast)
Vishesh had often spoken about the need for a professional basketball league in India. Having captained India for the better part of a decade, he was all too familiar with the kind of competition India goes up against in Asia. Having a professional league in India would go a long way towards helping the players be acclimatised with the competition they could expect. Having made his long awaited debut in the UBA, Vishesh turned in a monster 41 point performance against which ultimately came up short against the Chennai Slam.
Growing up, Vishesh had an excellent mentor in Trideep Rai, the sharpshooting Indian captain. Over time, the boy from Varanasi has established himself as a nightly triple double threat. He has an appetite for rebounds and the strength and pace to barrel downcourt in a hurry. There might not be anyone more skilled at scoring on layups in the entire country, and he has the tools to wreak havoc in multiple ways on the floor. He possesses an unselfish streak and a court vision far exceeding his years, add to that an accurate jump-shot and there are few more perplexing quandaries presented to any defense than the sight of Vishesh bringing the ball upcourt. In his first game with the Bengaluru Bulls, Vishesh dropped 41 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists on 13-17 shooting against the Chennai Slam as Bengaluru lost 123-119.
He explained his mentality on court and his views on the UBA, "If I'm bringing the ball upcourt against any one defender, I know I can at least finish inside everytime or draw a foul. If the defense is getting set, I try to draw their attention and make a play to make it easier for my teammates to get a good look. Before my first match, I was unsure about how exactly I'd find myself fitting in a new team. Once the ball went up in the first match but once you're on the court with the ball in your hands, everything falls into place. Whenever I play, I've never had the mindset that I have to just score. The bottomline is that the team should win and I do everything possible to help make that happen."
2) Amritpal Singh (Pune Peshwas)
Amritpal Singh might not bring the ball up the floor like Vishesh or Amjyot, but he steps on the court with the ownership papers to the paint on either end of the floor. Many players have charged into the paint looking to finish inside, only to turn back halfway on observing Amritpal's presence looming over them. On offense, there's absolutely no answer to contain him once he gets the ball with breathing room. Having dropped in a couple of three pointers to beat the buzzer in the game against, he's made it clear that he's a threat from anywhere on the court while being the most potent inside presence in the UBA in Season 4. In his debut, he dropped 31 points and 14 rebounds while shooting 12-18 from the field as Pune defeated Hyderabad Sky 114-103.
Speaking of his game and experience in the UBA, he said "Growing up, I used to train thrice a day, which enabled me to develop my game at a quick pace. The rules in UBA are slightly different, but basketball is basketball and we have a superb coach in Ram Kumar sir. He keeps nudging us in the right direction. This is a truly professional league and the players are really working hard here."
3) Amjyot Singh (Delhi Capitals)
Amjyot Singh has firmly established his name as India's premier scoring threat. A lanky 6"9 forward who can handle the ball and score in a variety of ways, Amjoyt's versatility has seen him lead India in points, rebounds, blocks and minutes on multiple occassions. As one who looks up to Kevin Durant, its easy to why Amjyot has incorporated a vast array of offensive skills in his arsenal. Armed with an automatic jumper and a long wingspan, Amjyot looks to will himself to the basket to put pressure on the defense, and if they back off in the paint he can shoot over them with ease. There really is no way to stop him, teams can just hope to contain him. In his UBA debut, Amjyot put up a stateline of 40 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals against Mumbai Challengers in a 140-121 loss. He shot a remarkable 12-14 from the field as well. He said, "Playing in my first game here was a great experience. My team trusted me and our coach got us in a good position to win. We tried our hardest and I wish I could have led us to a win in the first match. It was amazing to play in a professional league in India."