It was a picture perfect Saturday as Los Angeles hopefuls took to the Venice Beach courts to battle it out in the Red Bull King of the Rock Los Angeles qualifier. This one-on-one basketball tournament is comprised of qualifiers all over the globe, with the top 64 players advancing to the finals held on the island of Alcatraz on September 24. Out of the Los Angeles qualifier’s field of 64 contestants, only the top two earned a spot in the Finals on The Rock. Red Bull King of the Rock is the only official sporting ever held on the Alcatraz and will be hosted by NBA superstar Rajon Rondo.
The event, which was the first of 21 qualifiers in the United States, had enough hype to bring players out several hours before registration even opened to secure a spot in the competition. The high intensity play caused hundreds of passersbys to crowd the courts to get a good look and shout out their opinions on the games. In addition to the players, two other figures were watching the gameplay more closely that most. Izeah “Clutch” Bowman, 2010 Red Bull King of the Rock Champion and Christian Yeung, who took first in the Los Angeles qualifier last year. Both earned an automatic spot in the finals for this year, but were on-site to size up their competition come September.
Mark "The Heart" Peters Wills Way to Victory
Once shoes were laced up and whistles were blown, it was immediately apparent that this was serious business, and several hours of physical and aggressive one-on-one basketball followed. Some early games were blowouts, with a few “skunks,” where one player failed to score a single point. But as the day progressed, so did the remaining talent level, and the games became increasingly competitive. Mark Peters, from Compton, established himself as a crowd favorite early in the day due to his relatively small stature, endless hustle and adept ball handling skills. Constantly matched against taller, heavier opponents, Peters still found a way to win, pushing himself to the limit every minute. Announcer Mouthpiece was wowed by his tenacity, and nicknamed him “The Heart.”
But as “The Heart” advanced to the finals, he met his biggest challenge– 6 foot 6 inch Sheldon “Big Shel” Bailey. The David vs. Goliath battle that ensued kept the crowd in awe, as Peters effectively matched his quickness against Bailey’s size. It was a close game that could have gone either way, but in the end Peters was able to edge out Bailey with a final score of 11 to 8. Both Peters and Bailey will advance to the finals and receive an all expenses paid trip to San Francisco to compete on Alcatraz.
“It feels really good to win – sometimes you have a great game but you still lose, so I’m definitely happy with how today turned out,” said Peters. “But I’m not going to settle for this victory, not going to let my guard down. I’m going to train hard for Alcatraz – I’m definitely hungry for a win on The Rock.”
Top Los Angeles Ballers:
- 1. Mark Peters (Compton) – Qualified for the finals on Alcatraz
- 2. Sheldon Baily (Torrance) – Qualified for the finals on Alcatraz
- 3. Tracy Cathey Jr. (Lancaster)
- 4. Hassan Cook (Anaheim)
- 5. Zach Fray (Los Angeles)
- 6. Brian Seaton (Carson)
- 7. Ervin Estes (Santa Clarita)
- 8. Shawn Timmons (Las Vegas)
Red Bull King of the Rock is open to players 16 years of age and older, amateur and pro alike. Players under 18 will need to have a parent or guardian present to sign a waiver. Registration is first come first served at each qualifier, so players should arrive early to grab one of the coveted 64 spots.
Players interested in competing should visit www.redbullusa.com/kingoftherock for more information.
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