Like any other Filipino, Rene “The Challenger” Catalan is crazy about basketball.
Before he dedicated his life to wushu, and later mixed martial arts, the 40-year-old was a huge basketball fan who was left amazed by former PBA MVP Johnny Abarrientos, who captured the hearts of every Filipino fan back in the late 90s.
Watching the pint-sized guard weave his way through traffic and hit shots over defenders almost a foot taller than him, Abarrientos put a spell on Catalan which started his lifelong fascination with the sport.
“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,” Catalan shared.
“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.”
Although Abarrientos is long retired, Catalan still follows the sport — except now, he watches the NBA and follows another former MVP in Los Angeles Lakers’ star, LeBron James.
That is why not even an upcoming match against former ONE Strawweight World Champion Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito at ONE: REIGN OF VALOR would stop him from tuning into the NBA All-Star Game this coming weekend.
James will be leading his own squad against MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo’s team.
Many people are taking sides, including Catalan, who is rolling with Team LeBron.
“I’m a big fan of LeBron James. Other than his skills inside the court, I think he also drafted better teammates in this year’s All-Star game,” the Makati City resident said.
Knowing how crazy Filipinos are when it comes to basketball, Catalan is certain that a lot of people will be tuned in on Monday — hopefully, to watch his idol put on another show in the annual event.
“Basketball is a part Filipino lives, especially the youth in this generation,” Catalan said. “I’m sure that all eyes will be on their TV screens this weekend to watch the NBA All-Star game.”