Melbourne United sign Yudai Baba for remainder of NBL22 season
Melbourne United is ecstatic to announce that NBL21 Championship guard Yudai Baba has signed for the remainder of the NBL22 season.
Baba played 36 games for United last season, providing instant energy whenever he was on the floor, helping propel Melbourne during its championship run.
Head Coach Dean Vickerman spoke glowingly about adding Baba back into the team and how he believes the move helps his side moving forward.
“When Callum (Dalton) went down we obviously had an open roster spot and looked at the potential for what impact COVID and injury could have on us at the end of the year. Luckily Baba was available to us after leaving the G League.
“He’s a guy that won our SHARE Award last year, was our Defensive Player of The Year and can slide straight back into our culture and understand our system with only a quarter of the season left.”
The 26-year-old guard played an enormous role for United in its Grand Final sweep against Perth, scoring a combined 26 points across Games 2 and 3, including a series-ending dunk to seal the Championship win.
The Japanese guard will rejoin the team following a stint in the NBA G League with the Texas Legends, where he averaged 12.5 points and 5.4 rebounds on 50/40/90 shooting splits.
Looking at how his game has grown since he last suited up for United, Vickerman said Baba’s time with Japan in the Olympics and in the G League has made him a stronger, more dangerous player.
“I think he really expanded his game in the G League while he was there as well.
“We know that he’s going to add to our transition play and add to our defence. You look at some of the other teams in the league, they all have multiple elite guards, and they’re people that you need high level defenders against.”
More than his on the court impact, Vickerman is excited to bring back someone who seamlessly slots into United’s culture.
“He’s just an amazing person, our crowd and our team loved the way he went about things.
“He’s a fan favourite because of the speed in which he plays. There’s an absolute courtesy and respect for the game that Baba plays with.”
Subject to medical and VISA approvals, Baba will be travelling to Australia this week. The exciting Japanese-native will be made available to suit up for United as soon as possible following his arrival.