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''The sky is the limit'' for Yudai Baba says G-League and former Jordan coach
AMMAN (Jordan) - Japan national team, rising star Yudai Baba, got the opportunity to play in the NBA G-League this past 2019-2020 season. The 24-year-old was coming off back-to-back championship seasons in the Japan B.League with Alvark Tokyo, even winning the Finals MVP award in 2018-2019.
Solid performances in the Summer League resulted in Baba signing with the Texas Legends for the G-League season, where he averaged 6.3 points and 2.6 rebounds in 41 games. Baba impressed many in this past year, including a specific member of a rival team’s coaching staff who is familiar with Asian basketball.
“I got to watch Baba play this past summer in the Summer League and then, of course, he ended up staying in the G-League,” said Sam Daghlas, Jordan national team legend, and former head coach. Daghlas was a part of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers coaching staff this past season and shared his experiences as player and coach recently in a live interview on the @FIBAAsiaCup Instagram account.
“We’re in the same conference, so we played them four times, and I got to see him.”
In the four games Baba faced the Vipers, he averaged 9.8 points per game and shot 5-11 from three-point range. Getting to watch Baba from up close, Daghlas had many good things to say about the fellow Asian baller.
“He improved a lot from the first game to the last game: confidence-wise, [understanding] the flow, understanding the game. [He’s a] very talented player,” Daghlas said.
Now that Baba had arguably inched as close to NBA as one can get, there is no shortage of speculation and expectations on whether he can take it to the next level. Japan already has Rui Hachimura (Washington Wizards) and Yuta Watanabe (Memphis Grizzlies) in the NBA. Could Baba move on to complete a trio?
“Now, will he make an NBA team?” Daghlas asked. “The sky is the limit. I think that’s going to [be up to] his work ethic and [whether] he can really play that position which is one of the hardest positions in the NBA, the two-guard.”
“You have to be 6’5”-6’6”. You have to be athletic. You have to be able to knock it down. You have to be able to put the ball on the floor and do a variety of different things.”
There is a lot to be optimistic about concerning Baba’s first year in the G-League. Now everyone is anticipating whether he will be able to take the next step forward.
“From what I heard, because I know their head coach very well, they love him very much there. They love his work ethic. I was impressed with him. He definitely showed that he can play at this level,” Daghlas disclosed.
“Now the next thing is to show us if you can hang in at the NBA level,” he added, addressing the up-and-coming Asian star.