Published: 29th May 2019
These high-school NBA stars just got CBSE grades to kill for. This is how they pulled it off
The kids have been training at the National Basketball Academy India along with other players from across the country for more than a year
Achintya Krishna bagged a stupendous 96 per cent and Lalhnehpuia Chhakchhuak, 91 per cent marks in the CBSE Class X exams. But academics is not the only thing these kids, from Bengaluru and Aizawl respectively, are good at. They are the upcoming stars of basketball from India and train at the NBA Academy India at Jaypee Greens Integrated Sports Complex in Delhi. Achintya has travelled over the globe — to Germany, Spain, Australia and the USA representing the NBA Academy India since he joined in 2017. Lalhnehpuia is one of the first prospects from the North East to make his way to the NBA academy. He has also travelled to various countries since he joined the academy in 2018.
We caught up with the star kids to talk about studies, sports and much more. Excerpts from the conversation:
How did you manage the balance — studies and basketball must have been vying for your attention?
Achintya Krishna: Closer to my Class X CBSE board exams in February, I religiously dedicated six hours to studies and continued training for three hours a day. In my opinion, marks depend on how familiar one is with the syllabus and how many hours a day they put into practice what they truly enjoy.
Lalhnehpuia Chhakchhuak: On regular days, I dedicate two to three hours. During my Class X CBSE board exams, I religiously put in over seven hours a day. I personally feel the hours I dedicated to my books helped me reach my goal.
Did you feel any extra pressure owing to the fact that you are a professional sportsperson?
AK: Maintaining a balance between academics and sports is very crucial. The NBA Academy India has taught us how to manage our time effectively hence, I didn’t feel the pressure during my boards. The month prior to the exams is the most crucial stage, but I religiously went for training even though my boards were around the corner. I was confident of what I had studied and of the fact that I can translate the discipline and focus to my academics.
LC: Of course, I did. I was pressurised because there were two areas where I had to concentrate equally and put my best foot forward however the coaches really helped us with prioritising and managing time. I was able to spend more time with my books during my board exams since the academy had reduced the number of hours of training for us.
What are your educational aspirations?
AK: I’m curious to learn more about Economics. In class 10, my subject combinations included PCM and in the future, I am inclined towards specialising in the field of Economics as well.
LC: My first priority is to succeed as a professional sportsperson. However, I have never compromised on my educational aspirations because I know for a fact that education will always be useful and it is all about learning – be it with academics or sports. Keeping this in mind, I aspire to achieve a college and university degree and keep my options open.
What got you interested in basketball?
AK: I was introduced to basketball in school. My coaches and teachers had a huge influence. Despite my parents not being sportspersons themselves, they have never discouraged me from following my dreams, I am thankful to them.
LC: I was introduced to the sport at the age of six by my mother who played basketball and represented her school in Kolkata. My father has been serving as an executive committee member of the Mizoram Basketball Association (MBBA) which is the apex basketball authority in Mizoram.
Initially, my mother taught me the basics of the sport and I was fascinated. After over two years, at the age of eight, I was trained under JD Walsh, an American coach, who taught me the fundamentals of basketball. There was no way I was leaving the sport. At the age of twelve, I represented my state at the nationals. Ever since I have started playing the sport, my parents have been really supportive and encouraging throughout
Who is your basketball idol?
AK: James Harden (Houston Rockets) is one of the players that I look up to the most and I consider him to be my idol. Apart from him, I am a huge fan of Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors.
LC: Kobe Bryant has been my idol for quite some time now. Two major skills that I look up to him for — his style of playing and his incredible strength of mind.
What will you tell parents who think that being devoted to sports will not fetch their kid’s good marks?
AK: I truly believe that everyone must take-up one sport, follow it and pursue it. In this generation of smartphones and technology, very few students actually go on the field and sweat it out. Especially for me, playing has always been liberating and empowering. Even in school, I was very active when it came to be participating in school. Given my tall body and ability to play ball, the coach in school noticed my passion and asked me to attend his basketball camp. That was the day when I started playing the game and that is also how I fell in love with basketball.
LC: Personally, the sport has helped me focus and discipline myself both mentally and physically. I personally feel, if we use our time efficiently, one’s involvement in sports will not hamper their ability to perform well academically. In my case, I have changed my school and my board in the very crucial year of my board exam, but because of being focused and disciplined, I have been able to score a 91 per cent overall score.
How has being a part of the NBA Academy helped? Has it helped make a better schedule where you can invest time in sports and academics both and maintain a proper balance?
AK: With the guidance of the coaches and the teachers, we are learning to manage and maintain a balance between sports and academics.
LC: We maintain a strict schedule for training and education. Over a period of time, this has disciplined me and has also helped me in utilizing my time efficiently and effectively for my academics as well as training.