Lebron Lopez has chosen a different route for his basketball journey.
Tuesday evening, Overtime Elite announced that they have signed the 18-year-old to a deal worth a minimum of $100,000.
He becomes the fourth international prospect to sign with the upstart league following Jean Montero (Dominican Republic), Alexandre Sarr (France) and Nathan Missia-Dio (Belgium).
Lopez is the first Asian to do so, though. And he feels honored to join the program that is hoping to be the next pathway for prospects.
“I am humbled and grateful to Overtime Elite for believing in me and helping me get closer to my dreams. I will work hard to live up to their faith,” said the 6-foot-5 athletic winger.
“As OTE leadership said, I will be the first Filipino player to join them. It is an honor that I will not take for granted. I will not let our country down. I will work very hard to represent us well!”
Lopez joined OTE partly because its head coach and Director of Player Development Kevin Ollie has been particularly high on him.
Ollie played in the NBA from 1995-2010 and former head coach of UConn. And he said that he plans to develop Lopez not just for the pros but also for Gilas.
Lopez had eight points, five rebounds, one assist, one block, and a steal in the Philippines’ 76-51 win over Indonesia during the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.
“Francis is a high-flyer with his ability to play above the rim,” said Ollie in a press release.
“We’re building a program for him that will develop his game more completely so that he can achieve his dream of a professional career and as a leader on the Philippines national team for years to come.”
Before moving forward to the next chapter of his career, Lopez did not forget to thank everyone who made him who he is today.
“I want to say a special thank you to the people who helped me at the beginning of my journey. Coach Reggie [Varilla], Coach Tab [Baldwin], Mr. Al Panlilio, and Mr. [Manny] Pangilinan and the SBP — they saw the spark of potential in a young kid and supported it. I am forever grateful”