Newmarket native tries to win $250,000 in basketball

“It’s the purest form of basketball,” says 21-year-old social media star Matt Kiatipis, who competes at the Ones Basketball League (OBL) Championship in Las Vegas on July 15.

Newmarket native Matt Kiatipis said one-on-one basketball was something he had been doing since he was young.

Whether in parks or on other basketball courts, he said it was his favorite form of basketball and he came to prefer his basketball career as a team.

“There’s nothing I love more than going one-on-one with someone,” he said. “There is nothing more exciting than that. That I love, that I win, I just love the competition, just me and him.

That love has now taken the 21-year-old to the biggest step of his career, as he prepares to compete in the Ones Basketball League (OBL) Championship in Las Vegas on July 15-16, with $250,000 for the winner. The league led by basketball hall of famer Tracy McGrady attracts talent from across the United States, with Kiatipis qualifying by finishing second in a regional qualifier in Houston on May 1.

The basketball star played the game in high school and college, including DIvision 2 for Simon Fraser University. He said he looked up to local talent Kevin Pangos, who also played for Newmarket High School and went to the NBA.

“He did everything I wanted to do,” Kiatpis said, “(Newmarket is) primarily a hockey town, I wanted to put basketball on the Newmarket map…Newmarket means a lot to me.

But Kiatipis did not end up following the same path. After a professional stint in Costa Rica, he said he found playing in tag team leagues was not for him. But he started seeing basketball players playing it on his Instagram feed and decided to try his luck himself.

“I was already doing that,” he said. “Why don’t I just bring a camera and document? »

This led him to a thriving YouTube channel spotlighting his basketball game, with over 111,000 subscribers and millions of views. He said it led to rappers and professional basketball players following and connecting with him, as well as more opportunities in basketball.

“It sounds a bit cocky, but I expected something like this to happen. I’ve always loved being in front of the camera. I’ve always loved playing basketball. Organized basketball didn’t bother me. never succeeded,” he said. “I can entertain people through this camera. There’s no way it’s not working.

His YouTube channel features Kiatipis playing and discussing basketball. One element that Kiatipis says helped him gain notoriety is his “chatterbox”.

“A lot of people think I speak for the cameras,” he said. “I’ve always talked about trash because that’s what makes the game fun for me, being able to get into an opponent’s mind and headspace… I’m not exaggerating, I’m not don’t do anything crazy, but bashing is part of street basketball.

YouTube channel HoH has invited Kiatipis to a $50,000 creator tournament, which he will win in April. It caught OBL’s attention and earned an invite, Kiatipis said.

“OBL talent is top-notch,” McGrady said in a press release. “The competition is intense and the atmosphere of our first-ever final will be second to none with $250,000 in cash on the OBL throne awaiting the winner.”

Prize money would be an advantage, but Kiatipis said he wasn’t counting on it. He also has a basketball teaching business, his YouTube channel, and an amateur basketball team.

As the youngest competitor in the finals, Kiatipis said he plans to become a big figure in the OBL. He said he hopes to eventually be able to compete overseas against talent from around the world.

“It’s the purest form of basketball and it’s the most entertaining,” he said.

About Kimberly Alley

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