The numbers tell the story as well.
During Season 3, the average margin of victory in all regular season games was just 7.0 points per game. That indicates day in and day out, UBA games were more than just competitive, they were so close outcomes were routinely in doubt until the final minute. While Season 2 had many exciting games, including one decided on a shot that literally went in as the final buzzer sounded, the margin of victory was 15.5 points per game, meaning many were not as close as the games we saw during Season 3.
Most UBA teams had many of their players return, but all players took part in a pre-season training camp in Pune. At that camp, UBA Director of Coaching Jody Basye and his staff held several days of drills so new players could try out in effort to make the league, while returning players could reacquaint themselves with the increased demands of playing at the highest level in the country.
The most talented newcomers were added to teams in ways that would make the league as evenly balanced as possible, proven in how closely all games were played. The numbers also tell the story of how much the level of play has improved across the UBA.
No team had ever averaged as much as 90 points per game before Season 3, when six of the eight teams were at 90 points per game or higher. At the same time none averaged under 85 points per game. Compare those numbers to Season 2 when only two teams averaged 85 points or higher and five of the eight averaged under 80 points per game.
The UBA game is also being played above the rim. The number of dunks increased dramatically in Season 3, nearly doubling in the average number per game from those in Season 2 from just over .3 to nearly .7 per game. This is not just a sign of improved play, but increased conditioning. In the 24 games played in Season 1 there was only one dunk the entire season as players struggled to even reach the rim. Now players are routinely above the rim either dunking or blocking shots.
The number of former Indian National Team players now playing in the UBA has grown to 27, including the likes of 6-foot, 11-inch Akashdeep of the Haryana Gold. The star, who has also played with Railways, has become more than just part of the “bigger” in “bigger and better,” he and fellow former National Team standout, 6’ 9” Jaskaran form one of the premier front courts in the league. Akashdeep and Jaskaran are also just two of the reasons the Gold went from a last place team in Season 2 to a playoff team and league semi finalist in Season 3.
UBA talent stretches well beyond former international players with some of the best players with national experience across India from places like Services and Income Tax. Hyderabad Sky newcomer Manu Thomas from Army had an explosive debut setting a UBA single game record with 11 blocked shots. Later in the season Thomas also showed how he can run the floor on offense, racing to the rim in transition and becoming a nearly unstoppable force at times.
For the second straight season, former Indian National Team star Narender Grewal led the UBA in scoring. His Season 3 mark of 31.8 points per game set a new single season record as well. Narender’s consistency was as remarkable as his considerable skills. A knee injury may have forced him to miss Game 1 of the league semi final series against Chennai, but he hobbled out there in Game 2 and still found a way to score 25 points while essentially playing on one leg.
The kind of excitement we saw across the board in Season 3 has UBA fans anxiously awaiting Season 4 with promises more growth and excitement. If the level of play continues to grow at the same pace, then basketball fans across india will be in for a real treat in early 2017.