Brandon Cataldo (213-C-1991, college: Portland St.) is a 30 year old 213cm center from Oregon that is playing with German Regionalliga team Bona Baskets Limburg. He turned professional in 2015 with the Westfalen Mustangs. He played 3 seasons in Italy with teams Lorenz CMS Certaldo (Italy-Serie C Gold), Sutor BK 1955 Montegranaro (Italy-Serie C) and APD OR. SA. Barcellona (Italy-Serie C). He also gained further experience with teams : Barcelona Sporting Club (Ecuador-National League), Ungmennafelagio Snaefell (Iceland-D1) and KFUM Kalmar (Sweden-Superettan. He played at Portland State from 2011-2015 playing a total of 83 NCAA games. He spoke to germanhoops.comabout basketball.
Thanks Brandon for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?
Hello thanks for having me I’m very honored to be chosen for an interview by you and look forward to meeting you this weekend I’ve heard some good things about you. Life is great honestly being back in Limburg! I have been wanting to come back since I left but things just didn’t work out and due to covid I chose to play in France NM2 last season for Horrsariou which was an overall amazing experience also!
Your back in Limburg playing basketball. You were here before. You must have a special relationship with head coach Danny Stallbohm.
Coach Danny has been somewhat of a godsend for me because I was cut from my team in France this season in the first month due to not arriving in great shape however it wasn’t a good fit system for me there in Agen NM3.
You came during the 3 game winning streak. How crazy was coming in and playing that crazy game in Giessen where your teammate Matej Kljaic had 52 points.
That game against Giessen was really fun despite fouling out before the end of regulation it felt good to know my team could get it done and Matej is a special player for sure! I have had some good teammates before but Matej has vision unlike a lot of them and I almost immediately felt a connection with him on the court in the first practice 3 weeks ago
You were welcomed back to the Regionalliga by Terry Winn who had 33 points and 14 rebounds. What was it like battling him?
Terry Winn is a big time talent I noticed right away and it was cool to play against him. I look forward to the next time I get to play against him! It felt like I was back at the level I belong in and it’s really motivating to me to play against good players like this!
Even if Limburg did lose a tough game in Saarlouis, it has been playing better despite a short rotation and work horse KJ Sherril out. Has the team been playing on adrenaline and has it understood that it has to do everything possible in order to win?
This team has been figuring out our identity on the defensive end of the game due to the short rotation but we are definitely a talented group, we just have to figure out how to play together and move the ball more and we will compete with even the top teams. I was looking forward to playing with KJ but he got hurt right before I came.
What exactly is your role? I can imagine you are there to control the paint and score
My role on this team is currently to give Limburg an inside presence on defense and offense scoring easy buckets inside and also stretching the floor a little bit. Physically I am difficult to stop when I get the ball close to the basket so I have to really just do my best to set good solid screens and roll to the basket and our guards have done a great job at giving me the ball.
You played little in the NCAA and had limited roles in other countries but you proved in Iceland that you can be a double double man. Currently your averaging 14/12 stats. Do you feel that your game has been underestimated in some places?
My game has definitely been underestimated and this has led me to getting more limited roles but I know inside that I am very capable and having a coach like Danny who believes in me is just what I have needed!
You are teammates again with Justin Stallbohm. What do you enjoy most about his game and how infectious is his smile?
Justin is a knockdown shooter who is currently going through a small slump however I am confident he will get back into his rhythm and get back to normal soon. His smile is very infectious and I’m really are fortunate to get to play with a guy like him
An important addition has been Swedish forward Hugo Florestedt. How would you describe his game and is he a sort of glue guy for the team?
I would describe Hugo Florestedt as an all around gifted offensive player who can knock down shots and run the floor for easy baskets in transition so it has been great being his teammate and I think we will definitely continue to be effective together!
Last season you played with KFUM Kalmar (Sweden-Superettan) playing 6 games averaging 3.2ppg, 3.7rpg. You were there only a month. What positives could you take in your short time there?
I was actually in Kalmar for 9 months but I came in February of 2021 in the midst of covid all across the world and stayed there to get back into shape and get back into my game. It was a good experience and now they are in top league Sweden so I wish nothing but the best for them! I was playing behind an absolute beast Tobias Sjoeberg, so everyday at practice was a battle! I would say that they helped me get back into shape because they worked really hard in practice and preseason especially!
You didn’t play in the 20-21 season. I can imagine that Covid played a role. Were you back at home in the States and could you still be involved with basketball?
In the 20-21 season I was somewhat lost in terms of where to go but I always wanted to come back to play in Limburg! I have remained in contact with Coach Danny but it just didn’t work out for either party.
You played the 19-20 season with Ungmennafelagio Snaefell (Iceland-D1) playing18 games averaging 18.6ppg, Reb-5 (12.3rpg), 1.8apg, FGP: 53.4%, 3PT: 27.3%, FT: 60.0%. Despite losing many games, it must have been an incredible experience living in Iceland. What do you remember being the coolest thing you saw in the country during your stay there?
Playing for Snaefell was really a fun experience, despite losing almost every game the time in Iceland was something I’ll forever cherish because they took very good care of me there and I got to see one of the most beautiful countries in the world! I would say the coolest part of Iceland was Blue Lagoon and also Reykjavik in the downtown area. The Golden circle was also very beautiful!
You had 2 games with 22 and 21 rebounds. Not many bigs can say they have hauled down 20 or more rebounds. Did it sometimes feel like you were a man among boys in the paint?
The games I had over 20 rebounds I was being very active on the boards and due to my size that tends to make it easy to get those type of numbers for rebounds. I would say I’m a man among boys almost everytime I touch the floor it just comes down to being smart and not picking up silly fouls and that’s something I’ve always struggled with due to being bigger and stronger than most of my opponents.
You played 3 years in Italy with Lorenz CMS Certaldo (Italy-Serie C Gold), Sutor BK 1955 Montegranaro (Italy-Serie C) and APD OR. SA. Barcellona (Italy-Serie). What kind of an experience and how do you rate the competitive level and skill level of players in general in the C-Gold?
Italy is like my second home away from home i would say out of all my experiences my time in Serie C is a time I really appreciated the most due to the culture of Italy and the competition is much better than I originally anticipated!
Often you were the lone import among Italian players. What did you learn to appreciate about Italian players in general?
I mostly was by myself as a lone import but they always tended to help me out and I picked up the language in Italy in my time there due to the language barrier. I have always loved Latin based languages I speak fluent Spanish and Italian now due to the experiences I’ve had abroad and my studies at Portland state and High school. I appreciated mostly the comradary of the Italian players those guys all became my life long brothers!
You played your rookie season with the Westfalen Mustangs (Germany-2.Regionalliga). What a team to start your rookie season with. The organization didn’t pay it’s players. How did you survive this season?
I played for Westfalen my first month of overseas basketball in 2015 and ended up going to play in Serie D Italy and won a championship with San Vincenzo Basket. That was a season that I really loved because it was my first taste of overseas basketball. Despite it being a really low level I enjoyed every moment and winning a championship is special anywhere you go!
What do you remember being your wake up call to being a rookie overseas where you knew that you were far away from home?
I remember my first morning in Westfalen we had been moved out of one apartment into another haha it happened 3 times but I was very jet lagged and was just taking it all in we played in a tournament I remember and we ended up winning every game there that I played but I had 2 American teammates that really were veterans that both ended up leaving after a couple months I left after the first month. I just want to say one thing about all my experiences and that is this. I have been all around the world literally, Italy Germany Mongolia Iceland Ecuador Sweden France and Germany has been the best fit for me and my game so far from what I can see
Were you able to bond with some players that season? I remember Kris Douse was on that team. He had played previously in Limburg.
Almost every team I’ve played on I have a few good close teammates who I stay in touch with daily almost such as Ben Kil, I run a consultation service to help connect players with teams overseas I’m not sure if you knew that but I ended up getting Ben a player coach job in Iceland he was the first Korean American import in Europe so that’s one Stat I want to highlight also I’ve made connections with a lot of other teammates but I really want you to know how special of a bond I have with this one player we have been in the middle of Iceland together but we met first in Mongolia playing for the “Lakers of mongolia” “SBL” they had like 4 or 5 national team players including sanchir and Tommy Bilgens I think I spelt his name correct but I had 3 American teammates in Mongolia that short season after I played in Limburg last in 2019 that team in Mongolia brought me in to help win playoffs but I ended up playing against Ex NBA Player CJ Giles and losing in game 7 of the championship series. Another amazing experience out there in Mongolia. I really have a lot to say about all my experiences but I want to highlight bringing in Ben Kil. To Iceland for the first Asian American import in European basketball history in my own consultation service
You were at Portland State from 2011-2015. What kind of an experience was it playing there? You never averaged more than 10 minutes a game?
My time there was amazing I had my family at every single home game and I got to go travel mostly all of the united states, coming from a small town in Oregon “Rainier, Oregon”
I hope you don’t forget I was ranked number 10 in the nation in my class at my position in the 2010 class and I had Over 35 division 1 offers but I chose Portland state because it was close to home and I fractured my tibia my senior year In high school. I chose Portland state and I’m very blessed to have gone this path despite very little production on the stat sheet. I have so much to talk about I’m trying to just be limited in my answers to answer everything you’re asking and more. Portland state was a great experience but I think I stayed 5 years in the wrong university system I’m just happy I met my wife at a road game in the Big sky because without her I wouldn’t be who I am today and that means a lot to me family is something I’ve often put above pride or accolades and that is maybe why my career never really took off but I’m happy to accept this fate
You had a 16/13 game against Walla Walla. Was that one of your more memorable games in the NCAA?
My game against walla walla was a game I barely remember but it was against a team much worse than the level of my team so I was given a lot of freedom to do my thing in that game even though I could’ve done more in the regular season as well but I respect my coaches decision. I had a double double against Kham Birch who’s in the NBA now. That was my most memorable game but I remember playing walla walla it felt very easy like most the times I touched the floor at Portland State. I was limited in minutes because I was stubborn in my development in that school. I just wanted to do things my way and I was very inconsistent which is why I didn’t perform. I got down to 258 pounds at Portland state but I am more confident and powerful and able to dominate somewhere closer to where I am at right now which is 300 pounds. 290 to 300 lbs is my go to weight. For example in Iceland I was where I’m at currently in weight. But most of my career I have been above this weight and it’s caused me to be less productive. The game is very mental and I think when I’m not confident from my coach it makes things harder. You can see even though I’m 300 I still was very efficient in the last game against Saarlouis. I’m right where I want to be and I’m improving weekly
How did head coach Tyler Geving groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
Coach taught me a lot.
Who won a 1-1 in practice you or Collin Spickman?
You can ask Collin Spickman about this match up but he will tell you that I killed him daily as well as Japan professional Kyle Richardson. I’ve had my fair share of dominant practices and they will never doubt my abilities if you ask my teammates. Collin was a great shot blocker and could play at a fast pace like coach Geving wanted. He was what I would call a 4
Who was the best player that you ever faced in your life that reached the NBA or a higher league?
The best player was Damian Lillard I can say very confidently he played us a few times while having several injuries in college despite being the leading scorer the couple years he had been healthy. I remember he had 38 points on us at our house in the regular big sky conference match up and 40 against us at their house. We ended up playing them in the semi finals of our conference playoffs. He had 24 points but I would say that game my teammate Charles Odum killed him and earned a mid major all American status in that game along with the rest of the season. Kham Birch Ime Udoka, Mike James, Damian Lillard, and Marcus Smart are among my top 5 best players I’ve played against
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
My best teammates were in my AAU years for sure but I’ve had some very special teammates in my professional career as well but I see the term “best” as all time bests. I have had Mike James as a teammate in AAU, chehales Tapscott at PSU, Charles Odum at PSU, Nicola temperini “sutor montegranero” and John shodipo “ecuador Barcelona serie A” would be my top 5 best teammates overall
Please name your NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads?
NBA Mt Rushmore is clearly #1 Dame Lillard, I’m a die hard blazer fan, #2 Kobe Bryant, #3 LeBron James, #4 Tim Duncan, #5 Shaquille O’Neal “my middle School email address was email@example.com but I loved Arvydas Sabonis and Dirk Nowitzki as well which enticed me to go play overseas. I am confident that If I attempted to tryout for the NBA g league or NBA at this point they would give me shot because I can really back down most of these special athletes in the NBA today tomorrow and the next day
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron?
In the discussion of LeBron vs Jordan I say Kobe Bryant was the best of all time, I know it’s an unpopular opinion but I think in terms of legacy and true impact of the game you have Kobe Bryant but I guarantee that answer will change soon due to the upcoming talent coming into the game now. I don’t consider LeBron and MJ being comparable
Did you see the sequel to thze classic Coming To America movie? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?
Never seen the sequel to coming to America because I never got into American films since I’ve been overseas
Thanks Brandon for the chat.