If you want to avoid severe distortion of your pattern near the poles of your sphere, make so called quad sphere with TestQuadSphere command and explode it (with Explode command). After the explosion you will have 6 identical, curved surfaces which approximate squares. If you map the pattern separately on each square, the distortion will be tolerable.
There are many mapping commands: FlattenSrf, Smash, Squish, SquishBack, SquishInfo, UnrollSrf, UnrollSrfUV, ApplyCrv, CreateUVCrv, FlowAlongSrf, Splop, OrientOnSrf, ProjectToCPlane, and Project. I would use CreateUVCrv first to generate flat square from the curved (quad) square. Next, I would place the pattern in the flat square. Finally, I would use ApplyCrv command to wrap the pattern on the curved (quad) square.