Head on over to YouTube to watch the UBA US Pro Performance Camp Day-1 Podcast!
The Day 1 Podcast shows the players arriving to Phoenix, Arizona for the camp, and an inside look at the intense training on the first day. Watch for some new faces making an appearance while some old ones make a comeback. 9 NRIs will make a debut at the camp, ready to return to their roots in India with the UBA.
The top UBA players and others from around the world have arrived in Phoenix for an intense two weeks of training. The players were met with the coaches and UBA management at the airport, as they arrived from all over to participate in the camp. The camp will see the players benefit from close instruction under UBA Director of Coaching Jody Basye, League Assistant Coach Jon Kimberlin and Pro Advantage Training Systems' owner Keith Wilson. NBA legend A.C. Green, UBA Director of Sport will be on hand to give the players some firsthand advice as well.
A.C. Green was happy to see the players' enthusiasm for the camp. "Coming into first practice, the players were really excited. The jetlag did not appear to be that bad for them. Majority of the guys have traveled such a long way, at the same to come out physically and mentally and give it your all for the practice sessions, it was a lot. They challenged each other, which I liked, they listened to the coaches. Really wanted the guys to 'Hey, let's get going, get your blood pumping, overcome mental fatigue that's part of training camp."
Newcomer Varun Ram who has played for Maryland Terrapins in the NCAA was enthused at getting to play among some of India's top players, and then some. "It’s really cool (being someone of Indian origin to play with players from India), you don't see a lot of this. Seeing the love for basketball over there in India. Some of the talent and athleticism surprised me!"
Varun impressed Green as well. "We had such a great time at lunch, he was just asking me about Michael Jordan's stories, about Kobe Bryant's stories, about preparation in basketball and how one can sustain playing for a long time, about approach to basketball." Varun spent 30 minutes on court before getting a gash over his head. Green was ready to offer words of encouragement, "I told him, look, I was in a playoff game with the Lakers, playing vs Houston Rockets, and one of my fellow colleagues, Otis Thorpe, bit me in the head in the middle of the second quarter. I got 4 stitches and went back out there before halftime and finished the game. I told him 'You're gonna be fine, it's just a mental thing right now.'”
For the Indians, UBA veteran Siddhant Shinde (Pune Peshwas) arrived ready to go as well. "The travel was hectic, we've been travelling for 30 hours, but the feeling of excitement to get here to train in world class facilities and with coaches Jody and Jon is the best! It's so nice to come and see American and NRI players who will play with us in Season 5. Every one of them is really good and it is going to be great competition."
Manvinder Sahota, 'Manny' from Ontario, Canada found the first day of practice to be a blast, integrating well with the UBA veterans. "Everybody is very encouraging, the veterans and guys that have played in the league before, they are very helpful in terms of helping us learn the plays. They help the learning curve go a lot faster than we expected it to be. Coaches were great, giving great instruction. Everybody worked hard, it was competitive and fun."
The players did not seek respite after two demanding practice sessions on the first day. They were right back out there to work on their strength and conditioning for two hours. Being the NBA Ironman, with the record for the most consecutive games played in the NBA with 1192, Green knows a thing or two about the importance of conditioning and weight training. "Oh its important, it really is. You've done physical and mental work when you have practice sessions, but you have to be able to speak to your body and let your body get fine tuned because you are sort of chiseling the conditioning part of your limbs in one fluid motion out there, but now you go in and work on chiseling the body itself. That's where strength and conditioning really comes in."
One of the faces making a return is Mumbai Challengers' Jimmy Scroggins, a military man who helped lead them to a UBA Championship in Season 4. "It is awesome to be here! I'm excited to see the new players integrate with the old players and also to have them integrate with the American players and the addition of Canadians. It's gonna be a fun league this year! I'm really excited, I know everybody is going to be gunning for us, because we are the defending champs. We're trying to keep old man Alex (Scales) in shape and as loose as we can and just making sure we will return to UBA Finals."
If the competition was intense in UBA Season 4, it is going to go up a whole new level when UBA Season 5 tips off. Stay tuned for daily coverage from Phoenix about the UBA US Pro Performance Camp.