ONE Championship: From Johnny A To LeBron James, Rene Catalan’s Love For Basketball Remains Strong
ABS-CBN Sports on Feb 16, 2019 03:21 PM
“Just like other kids, I also grew up playing basketball in the streets. Then I go home and watch PBA basketball at home with my family,” - Rene Catalan (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)
Rene “The Challenger” Catalan might already be deep in training for his toughest foe yet in former ONE Strawweight World Champion Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito at ONE: REIGN OF VALOR on 8 March, but that does not mean he will skip watching his basketball hero LeBron James put on a show once again.
The NBA All-Star Game is set for Monday morning in the Philippines, and the fast-rising strawweight contender is making sure that he will not miss the annual event, which will feature some of the world’s best basketball players compete in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“I’m a big fan of LeBron James,” revealed Catalan, as the Los Angeles Lakers star is set to captain his own team against the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“Other than his skills inside the court, I think he also drafted better teammates in this year's All-Star game.”
James is set to team up with the likes of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kawhi Leonard. Antetokounmpo, on the other hand, will be joined by Steph Curry, Joel Embiid, Paul George, and hometown hero Kemba Walker on the starting line-up.
But Catalan’s love affair with basketball did not just start with LeBron.
The heavy-handed striker, who hails from Iloilo City, fell in love with the sport when he first saw former Philippine Basketball Association MVP Johnny “The Flying A” Abarrientos in action when the diminutive guard was winning titles for Alaska in the late 90s.
Abarrientos’ court vision and his ability to put hoops into buckets were the things that Catalan also saw in LeBron, and he became a fan ever since.
“Just like other kids, I also grew up playing basketball in the streets. Then I go home and watch PBA basketball at home with my family,” he said.
“I like Abarrientos a lot because of his intelligence inside the court. He can score and distribute the ball to his teammates without any problem. I saw a big similarity of Abarrientos’ game with LeBron. They’re both smart and a scoring threat inside the court.”
With less than a month before the biggest bout of his professional mixed martial arts career, Catalan will take a short break from training to watch the game together with the entire country.
“Basketball is a part Filipino lives, especially the youth in this generation,” he said. “I’m sure that all eyes will be on their TV screens on Monday to watch the NBA All-Star game.”