BENGALURU: Bengaluru will always hold a special place for one of India’s upcoming stars in basketball. Princepal Singh is currently in the city with the national team, and it is for the first time that the hoopster has been drafted into the senior team. He will be keen to make an impression when he wears the national colours in the Super Kung Sheung Cup International Basketball Invitation Championship in Hong Kong, starting Tuesday.
Standing at 6 feet 10 inches, he made a big name for himself in the sport with some impressive performances in the FIBA U-16 Asian Championships in 2017. He averaged 22.7 point per game in the competition, which caught many eyeballs. His rise did not stop there as he was also included in the NBA Academy India in August last year. Following which, he has been in an upward learning curve.
The youngster has been part of the NBA Basketball without Borders (BWB) Asia programme and BWB Global Camp. Singh’s skills were noticed in these programmes and he made it to the NBA Global Academy in Canberra, which has helped him improve leaps and bounds. And now, getting into the Indian team has added another feather in the 17-year-old’s cap. “I never thought I would be playing for the senior Indian basketball team. My family and everyone involved with me were pleased about my inclusion in the team,” he said.
There is a reason why Singh never thought he would play basketball for India. Growing up in a village in Dera Baba Nanak, Gurdaspur, he loved sports, and wanted to become a volleyball player. So much so that he travelled to Ludhiana for volleyball trials. However, fate had some other plans as his frame and structure grabbed attention of some basketball coaches of the Ludhiana Basketball Academy. “In my village, I used to play volleyball. I was told by someone about Ludhiana academy for volleyball trials and I was spotted by one of the basketball coaches. He asked me to come for the trials. So, that was my first experience as a basketball player. I started playing it when I was 14,” said Singh.
He did face some challenges in the court as the sport was new to him. But he took to the sport like duck to water. “As I was used to playing volleyball, I faced some challenges initially. But, I was determined to learn the game.”
What makes his career special, so far, is the fact that he has achieved so much in the last three years after getting his first taste of basketball in Ludhiana Basketball Academy. No wonder, he is being touted as the ‘next best thing’ in India basketball.