BENGALURU: Arnav Gupta has just finished playing basketball with his friends near his house, 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 tennis but this changed after he joined National Public School in HSR Layout in 2013. Despite being disheartened at the non-existence of tennis courts in the school premises then, the athlete in him was encouraged to try basketball. Aged 10 then, his initial tryst with the sport made him fall for it.
In a span of four years, Gupta has been taking rapid strides, even winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) title in inter-school tournaments multiple times. He has also represented Karnataka in the U-13 team. Now, the teenager has made it to the 10-member India boys team heading to the Jr NBA Global Championship, a youth basketball tournament, which will be held from August 6-11 in Florida.
“Before picking basketball in the fourth grade, I used to play tennis, which I liked. When I changed my school, which did not have tennis courts, my father asked me to try out basketball. And it did not take long for me to like the sport. 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 CE.
The players were chosen following a two-day selection camp at the NBA Academy in Greater Noida. 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 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 and not think if I would be making it to the team or not. I did the same and it helped me,” he said, adding that he is slowly getting into the groove for the Jr NBA Global Championship, and will begin serious practice after 10-15 days.