On Saturday afternoon at Westchester Recreation Center, the talent was even hotter than the weather as 30 Los Angeles hopefuls took to the courts to battle it out in the Red Bull King of the Rock Los Angeles qualifier.
Red Bull King of the Rock is a six qualifier one-on-one basketball tournament that will culminate with a showdown in The Yard of Alcatraz, hosted by basketball superstar Rajon Rondo. The top eight players at the Los Angeles event each earned a spot as one of the 64 finalists and a chance to be crowned King of the Rock on September 18.
The Los Angeles qualifier got off to an early start, with some players arriving to register as early as 5am! Things got officially underway several hours later, with players getting matched up for the first round of competition. Some familiar faces showed up to run, including several players from the American Basketball Association (ABA), the Japan Basketball League (JBL), the International Basketball League (IBL) and the World Basketball Association (WBA). Even former University of Alabama guard Schea Cotton, now a coach in Long Beach, made an appearance.
"I’m glad I was able to show everyone that I really can play, and I’m looking forward to proving it yet again on The Rock." - Christian Yeung, West Covina
Once shoes were laced up and whistles were blown, it became apparent that this was serious business, and several hours of physical and aggressive one-on-one basketball followed. Some early games were blowouts, with several “skunks,” where one player failed to score a single point. But as the day progressed, the games got more and more competitive. After several close games, the finals came down to Christian “Dragon” Yeung vs. Clutch Bowman. Although Bowman got off to an early lead, Yeung, a substitute teacher in West Covina who played Division I ball at UC Riverside, was able to shoot accurately from the outside and come from behind to win. Yeung will receive an all expenses paid trip to San Francisco to compete in the final on Alcatraz.
“I’ve been playing basketball a long time, and I’ve always been the underdog - it was no different here today. I’m used to the pressure of having to prove myself in front of a crowd…in fact I thrive on it,” said Yeung. “I’m glad I was able to show everyone that I really can play, and I’m looking forward to proving it yet again on The Rock.”
Los Angeles Finalists:
1. Christian Yeung - West Covina
2. Clutch Bowman - Inglewood
3. Nick Gaillard - Paris, France (now in West LA)
4. Garrett Pickens - Inglewood
5. Jamar Cramer – Long Beach
6. Hershel Presley – Morningside Park
7. Albert Jones - View Park
8. Phlip Gaillard- Paris, France (now in West LA)
The finals will be the first official sporting event ever held on Alcatraz, and the first time basketball has been played there since the inmates left the island over 50 years ago. Sixty-four contestants will emerge from the six qualifiers and make their way to Alcatraz for the final showdown on September 18. Those wanting to reach the hallowed grounds of Alcatraz must earn their spot through one of five remaining qualifier tournaments taking place in San Diego (July 24), Phoenix, (July 31), Seattle (August 7), San Francisco (August 28) and Oakland (September 11). Sixty-four finalists will emerge from these six qualifiers and meet at one of the world’s most iconic locations for the final battle. In the end, there can be only one King, so out of the 64 finalists, only one will be crowned “King of the Rock.”