Sikh Sportscasters Go to the basket, building on NHL telecasts that draw 100,000 viewers nationally Raptors Nation is getting vada – and that's a good thing. After the success of Punjabi Hockey Night in Canada, announcers Parminder Singh and Harnarayan Singh will now call Raptors games in the language of north India. (Vada means bigger in Punjabi.) "I think this was natural," says Parminder. "We did one Raptors game in March and the response was terrific. It was even picked up for broadcast in California." Starting Nov. 22, the two will call Raptors games televised Sunday on CBC. As with hockey, they'll air on Rogers, Bell and Shaw cable channels across the country. In the meantime, the two announcers have to come up with a proper lexicon to describe NBA action. They want their call to be colourful and fast-paced – just like the game – and are sure they can pull it off, with assists to NBA sportscasters like Chuck Swirsky. Now the voice of the Chicago Bulls, Swirsky called Raptors games for a decade. A pet phrase was "Get out the salami and cheese mama, this ball game is over!" Parminder will give this a Punjabi spin: "Bebe, bring out the dal and roti ... this game's over." Dal is lentil and roti is flatbread, staples in an Indian meal. Bebe is a pet name for grandmothers in Punjabi. By weaving in Punjabi phrases and terms, the two want to make viewing their Raptors broadcasts a family event. It worked for hockey. In its second season, Punjabi Hockey Night in Canada has a national audience of about 100,000, says Parminder. He believes numbers will be equally high for the Raptors, the only NBA team in Canada. According to the 2006 census, Punjabi is fourth among non-official languages used in Canada. Raptors play-by-play may get extended to other languages, said Chris Hebb at Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, noting Toronto's evolving demographics. "People should be able to follow their team in their own language." Basketball is a sport that attracts different cultures, says Harnarayan, a CBC reporter in Calgary. "Raptors' composition is diverse and so is its fan base." The game gained popularity among local Punjabis when Nav Bhatia, Mississauga's well-known car dealer, became a keen Raptors follower. Nicknamed "superfan," Bhatia is a presence at every game at Air Canada Centre. If Bhatia made the Raptors popular, Harnarayan and Toronto-based Parminder want to make the team a household name. In hockey, the pair announce two NHL games back to back, then interact with viewers on a Facebook group, asking game questions and giving prizes. That format likely won't change for basketball. The Punjabi play-by-play will bring the house down, predicted Harb Kahlon, a 27-year-old Raptors fan who enjoys Punjabi Hockey Night in Canada. "I don't watch it because it's in Punjabi, but because it's a tonne of fun." Punjabi telecasts help newcomers connect to their adopted country, said Kahlon. "Sports is without any boundaries and play-by-play in a local language helps (immigrants) integrate with mainstream." First hockey, now basketball. What next? The Vancouver Olympics, says Parminder. The two are in talks with Omni TV to call selected events in Punjabi. "Probably hockey and figure skating," he said.