If anyone should have been intimidated by the idea of playing against a bunch of NBA superstars, it was Romel Beck.
Beck followed the NBA religiously while growing up in San Bernardino, Calif. He dreamed of one day playing alongside Kobe Bryant on the Los Angeles Lakers. Instead, the former UNLV guard found himself playing against Bryant on Monday in the second round of the FIBA Americas Championship.
But as has been the case every night in the tournament, Bryant and his Team USA buddies got the last laugh as they took care of Beck and Mexico.Â Â After playing their worst 10 minutes of basketball in the tournament so far, they were searching for something to spark them. Then LeBron James told his teammates, “The energy man has awoken.”Â James, the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar, went out and backed up his words, scoring 16 of his 19 points in the third period as the U.S. overcame an unusually sloppy first half to defeat Mexico 127-100.Â It was the most points scored by the Americans in the tournament, but also the most Team USA has allowed.
Unlike Sunday’s game against Brazil, which attracted the largest and loudest crowd of the tournament (9,293), Monday’s docile crowd of 4.028 was the smallest of the event’s six days. It would be up to the USA players to generate their own energy.
“I think everyone was at the craps tables after work,” Bryant said kiddingly.
Source:Â Review Journal