Prudhvishwar has come a long way

Prudhvi’s decision to dump cricket, where he was invariably the 12th man in the school squad, has done him a world of good.

Prudhvishwar Reddy in action for Mumbai Challengers in the United Basketball Alliance Pro League.

Ambati Prudhvishwar Reddy was seen as the big fish in Hyderabad/Telangana/Andhra Pradesh.

Combined might of the city/States amounted to a small pond in international basketball. One trip to the Europe Basketball Academy (EBA) in Barcelona, Spain saw a role reversal, reduced as he was to a small fish in a big pond!

"It took me six months to actually play a match,” the promising point guard and under-18 international told Sportstar from the sidelines of the ongoing United Basketball Alliance Pro League, where he turns out for the Mumbai Challengers. Until then, he had to slog in three two-hour training sessions, designed by EBA boss Srjdan Premovic, every day.

The Siripuram village native of Ramannapet mandal in Telangana’s Nalgonda district has come a long way! Serbian largesse from Premovic helped him stretch his training stint from three months to a year in Spain, where he vied against talent from across the world. He reaped the rewards on his return, steering India to victory in the 2014 South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) championship in Bengaluru.

Thanks to his fellow trainee in Barcelona, Prudhvi was invited to the Christian Life Academy in Houston, Texas where he spent a year further, sharpening his skills. Not surprisingly, he was drafted by Mumbai Challengers on an annual contract in the UBA’s second season itself, having missed the first by not making it in time from the U.S.

Prudhvi missed the bus to the NBA D League, after finishing second only to Palpreet Brar in a nationwide screening, shortlisted to 36. His 6’ 1’’ frame was seen as insufficient for a point guard! That sorrow turned to joy when he was among the country’s top 16 chosen by the UBA to visit the U.S. after seasons two and three, where he averaged 20 and 25 points per game.

His stature grew, as he often figured in the starting five in matches there. “Prudhvi should have been in serious contention for a place in the senior National squad,” observed International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Technical Delegate Norman Isaac.

“He was a victim of the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) ban on Cagers who had participated in the United Basketball Alliance (UBA) Pro League’s third season, which prevented them from playing in the Puducherry Senior Nationals in January,” he added.

As Prudhvi prepares for the playoffs next week in Goa, he’s indebted to Isaac, who made an 11th hour decision to include him in the Hyderabad squad for a State championship. The youngster had been disheartened enough to quit the sport when dropped from a neighbouring district’s side.

So does the 20-year-old gratefully remember his early mentors G. Jacob and P. J. Danikal, also good players in their prime but who didn’t have the opportunities enjoyed by their ward. Prudhvi’s decision to dump cricket, where he was invariably the 12th man in the school squad, has done him a world of good.

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