Recently ranked as the most powerful sports brand in the world, the National Basketball Association (NBA) is going from strength to strength across the globe. Having this week signed a new four-year broadcast deal with Sky Sports in the UK, the 2018-19 season tips off tomorrow with back-to-back champions Golden State Warriors (GSW) again marked as hot favourites.

Meanwhile, UCFB Wembley’s inaugural basketball season also begins on Wednesday, with BUCS competition commencing at Vale Park Sports Centre, Wembley, against University of West London from 1.30pm.

We spoke to Jasper Willems, a founder and President of the UCFB Basketball Society, about the upcoming NBA season and his aspirations for UCFB basketball.

What NBA team do you support and why?

I am a long suffering New York Knicks fan. The only real reason I support them is because I was born in America and it was my closest team.

Who is your prediction to be NBA champions in 2018-19 and why?

It’s difficult to look past Golden State Warriors (GSW) for the title again, they’ve just got so many weapons my head says they will win again. However they have more competition this year especially with LeBron James joining the Lakers. He needs his yearly NBA Finals fix and that could be a very tasty Conference Finals. In the east, the Celtics and 76ers stand out. My prediction will be a GSW v Celtics Finals, with GSW winning in six games.

And Most Valuable Player (MVP) this season?

MVP…. my bet is on LeBron, he’s deserved it the last couple years and hasn’t got it, now with a massive franchise and keeping the numbers he has; it’s a travesty he hasn’t won more.

What are you most looking forward to this NBA season?

I’m most looking forward to seeing Markelle Fultz and how he changes the 76ers. The first overall pick from the 2017 draft was barely there last year and I would love to see him slot into an ever maturing 76ers team. I think they will be a super team to watch. This year’s rookie crop are also very exciting, I’ll be looking out for Luka Doncic especially.

As a BA (Hons) Sports Business & Sports Broadcasting student at UCFB, what do you make of Sky Sports’ new four year TV deal for the NBA, taking over the UK rights from BT Sport?

I wish Sky had promoted the BBL (British Basketball League) in all honesty. But, it shows the appetite for the game within the UK that they have bid so much money to take the rights from BT Sport. For those who have Sky it’s a great opportunity to watch a new sport if you haven’t before. The sports industry isn’t streamlined and the more knowledge of a variety of sports you have, the better, so if you’re bored late at night, flick on the NBA and you’ll understand the hype.

You are a co-founder of the UCFB Wembley Basketball Society and its President, beginning your first season in BUCS competition. What are your ambitions for the season and the team?

We have exceptional team atmosphere, the boys we together all work for the each other and it makes every session we have fun. It’s a bit of an unknown heading into our inaugural season because we don’t know the level of the teams around us but I feel exceptionally confident that we can outwork and wear down the opposition purely on work rate. If we have an injury free season I don’t see why we can’t win most of our games. The cup will be a true test of what level we are at as a team and we’ve improved so much in 3 training sessions I look forward to see how far we can improve come the end of the season.

I just want everyone to enjoy themselves and feel part of it. A brotherhood is what we want to achieve. Win or lose, I hope everyone from the coaches to the players feels upbeat and happy. Also, I know the team will show other universities that UCFB has far more to offer than just football. We may not be in the spotlight but I’m hopeful we will still shine. Everyone has bought into what we are trying to achieve and all I’d say is watch this space.