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Want to play along with stars like Lebron James, Anthony Davis one day: Princepal Singh – other sports


Princepal Singh, a 19-year-old hailing from a remote India-Pakistan border village of Qadian Gujjar in Dera Baba Nanak town, is the new poster boy of the Indian basketball. Till the age of 14, he had never travelled out of Punjab, but it’s basketball that changed Singh’s destiny. Now he is going places.

A product of Ludhiana Basketball Academy, Princepal, 6’ 10”, has signed to play in the NBA G-league – the fficial minor league in 2020-21. He will train and compete alongside the new G League team featuring elite youth prospects.

In the 12th board exams results announced this month, he scored 65 % marks.


Q: How do you rate your achievement of signing to play in the NBA G-league?

A: It’s the biggest achievement of my career till day. Or I can say, it’s a major milestone in my basketball journey. For the last two years in Australia, I was really training hard for this day and thankfully, my hard work is paying me dividends. The Ludhiana Basketball Academy groomed me as a player and later my selection at the NBA Global academy in Australia (in 2018) helped me to prepare for the bigger leagues. I am from a border area where there is hardly any sports infrastructure and hail from a humble background. My father is a cashier at the Punjab Electricity Department. So, I take this achievement as an opportunity to motivate the youngsters of my area to think big despite hardships and limited facilities. They too can make a career in sports.

Q: After G-league, what’s your next target?

A: In India, till date, we have a handful of players who have made it to the NBA G-league. So, one can understand how big this opportunity is for a player who comes from a country where basketball is not as popular as in America. Playing in any format of the NBA league is a very big platform for me. I want to prove my credentials here and simultaneously will work on my skills and fitness, especially on strength, so that I can graduate to the main NBA league in the coming years. My ultimate target is to play along with stars like Lebron and Anthony Davis and I am confident that I will achieve my dream one day.

Q: How were you introduced to basketball?

A: No one from my family is from the sports background. I am the first one who is looking for a career in the sport and it was all due to my tall height. When I was 13 years old, I was above six feet, so I thought of becoming a sportsperson. But the area I hail from hardly has any sports facilities. I was totally clueless, how to enter the competitive sporting arena and which sports I should pursue. As I was quite skinny, so initially, I joined a local athletics coach in a stadium at Dera Baba Nanak, so that I can work on my fitness. During that time I came in contact with former Member of Legislative Assembly Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal, whose son Gimmy used to play basketball. He (referring to Lodhinangal) advised me to join basketball and even spoke with some officials of the Punjab Basketball Association. I was told to visit the Ludhiana Basketball Academy and as they say rest is the history.

Q: How do you describe your stint at Ludhiana Basketball Academy (LBA)?

A: What I am today is all because of the Ludhiana Basketball Academy. It was only after joining the academy that I touched basketball for the first time. Had I not been in the academy, I wouldn’t have played basketball in my life and end up either playing volleyball at local level or maximum would have competed in a couple of tournaments in athletics. But it is the LBA that changed everything for good. I came under the wings of coach Jaipal Singh. I was a quick learner and after a couple of months, he used to tell me that I am not made to play basketball in India and I will play in the NBA one day. At that time I used to take it lightly, but my coach was more determined and he even used to train me extra, apart from the regular morning and training session. Though the D day is still far away, I have taken a step towards the biggest league of the sport.

I still remember, when I missed an opportunity to train in America in 2016 because my visa got rejected, it was Jaipal Sir who motivated me to work harder and told me that it’s not an end of the road and in future I would be getting more such chances.

Q: What is the reason behind the LBA’s success story?

A: LBA is the best academy in the country. Once a player is here, he will only talk about basketball and nothing else. Since the time, Satnam Singh broke the NBA barrier, every trainee, even the new entrant at the academy is aiming for the big league and that’s the main driving force behind the great success rate of the academy. Before me, the academy has sent Satnam Singh Bhamara, Palpreet and Amjyot Singh to the NBA development league. From day one, the trainees here follow the schedule, which the world’s best academies are following. Even when I was selected at the NBA Global academy in Australia, I was doing the same ball handling and dribbling skills, which I was doing in the global academy.

Q: What changes have you made in your training to be on the bigger platform?

A: Getting into the NBA Global Academy was a big break for me. I was the only one from India in my batch. When I was selected for the global academy, I decided to work more on my endurance and strength. At the international level, the sport is very hard and tough. So, to survive at the top-level one has to be very strong apart from being good at the basketball skills and athleticism front. I had really worked hard on increasing my strength and did a lot of weight training during my stint in Australia. When I came to the global academy, my weight was 93-94 kilograms and now it’s around 100 kg. In Australia, we had a scientific approach to monitor our diet and better recovery system. These things help me to improve my game. When you are better equipped, your perspective and approach towards the game also changes.

Q: Whom do you idolise on the basketball court.

A: Among the Indian players, I admire Palpreet. He is a great support system and always motivates me to achieve big. I made my international debut in 2017 when I was picked for the Under-18 tournament held at Malaysia and because of the support system at LBA, in the very next year, I made it to the senior’s team for an invitational tournament in Hong Kong. The last tournament I played for the country was the FIFA Asia Cup qualifiers earlier this year. Among the NBA players, Anthony Davis is my Idol. I want to play like him. In the coming time you will see more and more players from India playing in the American league and hope I will become an inspiration for someone.


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