Like his father, Khristian Itaas is slowly making a name for himself in the sport of basketball. However, unlike his father, Leo, the 19-year-old has a more balanced skill set.
More than 10 years ago, Leo wrought havoc all over the playing courts on Saipan with his scoring acumen and gravity defying fast-break plays that birthed his moniker, “The Human Pogo Stick.”
However, his son has a more all-around game as the 5’11” Khristian plays more of a guard and even led the recently concluded Rollers Basketball Association 2021 Spring Madness League U19 division in assists with 12 dole-outs. He went on to win the regular season MVP award of the tiff for the runner-up Sonics as he also paced his age group in scoring with 46 total points.
Khristian knows he’s more than a one-trick pony and admits that he wants to affect every facet pf a basketball game, whether it be scoring, passing, defending, and even being his team’s emotional leader.
“My strengths in basketball, skill-wise, would be my 3-point shooting, dribbling, passing, speed/quickness, IQ, and how I am able to finish at the rim even at difficult angles. My dominant hand is my left and I also am very athletic. I am also versatile and can play almost all positions. But other than my skills, I believe my biggest strength would be my dedication and mentality to always wanting to improve in the game of basketball. I love learning and taking in advice from people who have much more knowledge than I do in the sport. I am always willing to work hard to become the best player I can be,” he told Saipan Tribune in a recent interview.
The Marianas High School alumnus said he’s aware of his father’s many accomplishments in basketball and would like to someday attain his success but at the same time carve his own niche in the sport.
“My dad has always been one of my biggest inspirations in the game of basketball. He is the reason why I started playing basketball. Growing up I would always go to his games, sometimes even sitting at the bench with his team cheering him on. I was so proud to be his son because my dad was really good at basketball, he even had nicknames that the announcers would chant out like Leo ‘The Skywalker’ Itaas or ‘The Human Pogo Stick,’” he said.
Like most CNMI basketball players nowadays, Khristian wants to follow the footsteps of former Garapan Rollers player and MHS alumnus Jericho Cruz, who played collegiately in the Philippines and is currently playing for NLEX in the Philippine Basketball Association.
Aside from Cruz, Khristian also idolizes his father. “I wanted to be just like him. My parents would keep newspaper clippings about him and it would talk about the awards that he has won or he really played a good game. I always just picture and imagine myself winning the awards that he has like the most valuable player because I also want him to be proud of me. He is also my mentor and has taught me a lot about the game. So every time, I know my dad is out there watching my game, I always want to give it my all,” he added.
Khristian is indeed primed to reach new heights in the sport of basketball, which only justifies his last name as “itaas” in Filipino means “high.”
Khristian and other second-generation basketball players are also featured in the April-June edition of TAGA Plus. To read the article go to https://tagaplus.saipantribune.com/.