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Winnipeg’s Shawn Maranan

goes pro this summer

     Shawn in action
Photo courtesy of Maranan family

Basketball is the sport of choice for many Filipinos. In the Philippines, the lack of actual basketball courts was never a hindrance for the young and old players. Enthusiasts improvise on the streets and any available parking spaces.

Here in Winnipeg, where we enjoy actual hard courts and the coaching of many professionals, players have the best tools to achieve their goals.

One such player is Shawn Maranan. From playing with cousins at a young age to being a top player for the University of Winnipeg’s Wesmen, Shawn has now been drafted into the Winnipeg Sea Bears of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL). He is living his childhood dream of playing pro.

On April 11th this year, the Sisler High School grad became the third Wesmen player ever to be drafted into the summer pro league.

Pilipino Express recently spoke with Maranan about being drafted and what this opportunity means for him.

PE: Your parents told me you have been playing basketball since as young as three years old. You even have a photo holding a basketball!

Shawn: Basketball is something I always enjoyed so I’m not surprised that I have a ball in my hands (in that picture). I don’t really remember that photo, I think I was a little too young but again, I am not surprised that I have a basketball in my hands.

PE: Young Filipino kids usually play soccer or hockey or football, but you chose basketball. Was this a personal preference for you or maybe were you influenced by someone?

Shawn: Definitely a personal preference. I felt like I was surrounded by basketball. A lot of my family on my dad’s side played basketball a lot. My closer cousins played basketball and we were always watching basketball, too. So, it was always something that I fell in love with from a young age.

PE: What do you like about basketball?

Shawn: The sport itself is pretty unique. The friendships that you build with your teammates is bigger than basketball sometimes. I mean, I’ve been with the Wesmen for four years now and I’ve created a lot of friendships that will last a lifetime. So, I think the outside pieces of basketball is just as important. The discipline, it teaches you a lot about life. I have been with a lot of coaches throughout my life who have taught me a lot of life lessons, a lot of different things.

PE: What do you like least about basketball? Do you have something that you don’t like about the sport?

Shawn: There’s really nothing. I mean, everything that has to do with basketball, I enjoy. Whether its practice, playing, running … I don’t really have anything against basketball. I love everything about it.

PE: So there never was a time that you thought of quitting or playing another sport?

Shawn: Never. It’s always been basketball. It’s the only thing that’s like a passion for me. And it was like an escape for me, too. Anytime that I’m like feeling down or anything, basketball was kind of a therapeutic thing for me.

PE: After joining the practice last year, you were finally drafted recently to play pro for the Winnipeg Sea Bears. What was your first reaction?

Shawn: I was shocked.

PE: You didn’t expect it?

Shawn: Well, kind of. There was a lot of talk in the air about it, after a pretty good finish with the Wesmen last season. So, it was kind of a surprise but at the same time, I’m excited.

PE: When it finally sank in that your basketball career is being taken to a higher level and to a wider audience, how did you feel?

Shawn: I felt pretty good. Knowing that a lot of my hard work, a lot of the stuff that I put in behind the scenes is paying off. And again, it’s just a reminder for me to continue to push forward.

PE: Who did you tell first?

Shawn: I told my girlfriend first and my sister and then I told my mom. Then we surprised my dad who cried because of happiness.

PE: Tell us about the games…

Shawn: Our first game this season is actually on the road. We’ll be playing Saskatoon on May 22nd. But our first game (here) will be on May 24th at the Canada Life Centre.

PE: What does this opportunity mean to you, Shawn?

Shawn: It means the world to me. I am fulfilling a childhood dream of mine. And to do it in Winnipeg, I don’t know if you could write it any better. Coming from a small neighbourhood, at Tyndall Park, I have big dreams growing up so it’s definitely a special feeling.

PE: Do you think more Filipino kids will be inspired or encouraged to play basketball because of you or your achievement?

Shawn: I hope so. That’s the goal. Hopefully I get to pave the way for a lot of the younger generation especially the Filipinos. We are kind of overlooked because we’re never the biggest, never the strongest, never the fastest. But hopefully I can be a good role model for them.

PE: Support of family and community is very important…

Shawn: My family definitely does a great job of supporting me. Like in the playoffs that were held here at the U of M. They occupied a whole section, and they gave me a lot of energy throughout the playoffs to help me perform in a way that was helpful to my team. So, my family’s support is definitely something that I won’t take for granted.

PE: Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Shawn: Hopefully still healthy, still able to play basketball and maybe somewhere, again playing basketball professionally. So that’s the goal of mine and I’m just going to continue to work towards that.

PE: If not a basketball player, what do you see yourself as?

Shawn: That’s a good question… but I am in school right now to be a gym teacher so I’ll say that, a phys-ed teacher. I still have one more year, next year.

PE: What do you do in your spare time? Do you have spare time at all?

Shawn: I do. Rarely. But I play video games in my free time. I play with my friends so it’s kind of a peaceful and safe place for me. I hang out with my girlfriend a lot. That’s it. My life is pretty simple.

PE: Do you see the kind of support Winnipeggers have for Jets hockey being translated into the same kind of support for basketball as well?

Shawn: Oh yeah, 100 percent! I mean, we kind of saw a brief summary of it last year when we made the playoffs. We sold out the building (Canada Life Centre) for the first time. I think we sold out the arena like five times, maybe more, throughout the season. That just goes to show the strides we’re making. And how the community is really into basketball. So, I feel like the Winnipeg Sea Bears can emulate what the Jets fans bring out. You never know, right?

PE: Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Shawn: Just want to give a shoutout to my family, the Maranan family, Panaligan family, the Fur Bear family and the Blizzard family. These are really the people in my corner. They helped me to reach my goals, so I just wanted to give them a special shoutout.

According to the Wesmen website, Maranan was taken 28th overall in the draft, giving him a spot on the active roster after he spent the Sea Bears’ inaugural 2023 season on the team’s practice squad. The CEBL draft allows U Sports players to play in the professional league without affecting their university eligibility.

In 2023-24, Maranan finished his fourth season of eligibility by elevating himself into the discussion of the top point guards in the country as he set career highs in assists per game, steals, and free throw percentage.

He was named a Canada West second-team all-star for the second time in his career and earn a tournament all-star at the Final 8 in Quebec City.

Maranan led the nation with 7.2 assists per game and made nearly 90 per cent of his free throws, which ranked third in U Sports.

You can cheer on Shawn and his Winnipeg Sea Bears teammates when they play a home game on May 24 at the Canada Life Centre, by purchasing tickets through the Winnipeg Sea Bears website or through Ticketmaster.

By Lucille Nolasco-Garrido