Bangalore boy dribbles way to Jr NBA Global Championship

BANGALORE: Arnav Gupta has just finished playing basketball with his friends near his residence and still has the energy to talk about the sport. The 14-year-old reveals that he picked up the sport by chance. Initially, the city boy loved playing lawn tennis but this changed after Gupta joined National Public School in HSR Layout in 2013.

Despite being disheartened at the non-existence of lawn tennis courts in the school premises then, the athlete in him was encouraged to try basketball. Aged ten then, his initial tryst with the sport made him fall for it.

In a short span of four years, Gupta has been taking rapid strides, even winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in inter-school tournaments multiple times and has also represented Karnataka in the U13 team.

Now, the teenager has made it to the 10-member India boys team for the Jr NBA Global Championship, a youth basketball tournament, which will be held August 6-11 in Florida.

“Before picking basketball in the fourth grade, I used to play lawn tennis and I liked it as well.  I joined NPS in HSR Layout and they did not have tennis courts, but they had a basketball court and my dad asked me to try it out.

“And it did not take long for me to like the sport as well. It was fun and interesting so that is how it really began. Now, if I look back at having picked basketball, it has borne fruit, especially after having being picked for such a mega event,” Gupta told City Express.

The players were chosen following a two-day selection camp at the NBA Academy India in Delhi NCR. Gupta is the lone youngster from the city to make it to the boys team and he is pleased to have made the cut from the camp, which featured 20 players from the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA Skills Challenges, City Competitions and National Finals.

Gupta’s only plan, however, was to give his best in the camp and not think about the team selection, which helped.

“The training camp was tough. My coach told me to play my natural game in the camp and not think if I would be making it to the team or not. I did the same and it helped me a lot,” said Gupta, who is slowly getting into the groove for the Jr NBA Global Championship, but will only begin serious practice after 10-15 days.



By Ashim Sunam