Ambati Prudhvishwar Reddy, 18, could have continued the trend of Indian basketballers before him— finish school, gain admission to a government run college on sports quota, move to a public sector company and retire from active playing by the mid thirties. But Reddy is a disruptive force, bursting at the seams, itching to leave a unique legacy behind.
The Nalgonda native was bit by the basketball bug at the age of ten. “I used to practise twice a day, 60 sessions a month. I was in the weight room five times a week.” In his quest for greatness, he even ran around athletic tracks with weights tied to his ankles. “I trained under a single street light in near darkness to improve my concentration and not miss the tough shots during an actual game.”
The Telangala teen made it to the Indian probables camp twice at the under 14 and under 18 age groups. It was time for another push.
“I was invited to the Europe Basketball Academy in Spain by Coach Srdan Premonic.” Furious consultations with his family followed. “My parents weren’t too supportive at the beginning but realised how serious I was about pursuing basketball professionally.”
On September 13th, 2013, the then 17-year-old touched down in Barcelona, funded entirely by his businessman father and physical education teaching mother. Special interactions followed. “Talented kids handpicked from US, Canada, Europe, Africa and Australia are training at the Academy. I’ve become good friends with many of them.”
Apart from the near five hours spent daily at the advanced facility, Reddy has also been exploring his surroundings. “I can now speak a bit of Spanish and find that Europeans are really easy going.”
The aspiring youngster is systematically setting new targets. “In two years I will play in the Spanish premier league. By my mid 20s I will move into the Euro League. Ultimately, I hope to become the first Indian in the NBA.”
To all the other young kids clamouring to join him in Europe, the 6ft point guard has some quick words of advice. “Think out of the box. Believe in yourself. Never listen to naysayers. There are a lot of people saying I’m too young, making a mistake, not good enough or moving in the wrong direction. I hope to disprove them and keep doing what no Indian kid has ever done before.”