HARRIS COUNTY-HOUSTON SPORTS AUTHORITY INSIDER

Drexler excited to bring Big3 season opener to Houston

Clyde Drexler has the Big3 in Houston for opening night. Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

The Harris County – Houston Sports Authority Insider will take you inside Houston Sports each Friday because #WeAreHoustonSports!

Still trying to shake off the Rockets’ loss in the NBA, er, Western Conference Finals?

Pondering what could be if LeBron James picks – or doesn’t pick -- Houston?

Or just trying to un-see some of those moments during the Ted Cruz-Jimmy Kimmel Blobfish Classic?

Whatever basketball malaise you’re in, Clyde Drexler is pretty sure he has the cure.

Friday’s Big3 season two opener at 5:30 p.m. at Toyota Center.

The Houston basketball legend-turned-Big 3 commissioner couldn’t be more excited to bring the 3-on-3 league filled with recent NBA stars and coached by Hall of Famers to his hometown.

“Opening week, we wanted to be perfect,’’ Drexler said. “Houston is one of our premier destinations and we can’t wait for it to get started.

“We try to go to cities that follow the NBA game, that are big basketball cities and vibrant economic cities. Houston checked all the boxes.  We’ve got an incredible mayor, great leadership and Toyota Center is a great place to play and our fans love the game of basketball.’’

How does a 4 p.m. kickoff concert from Big3 co-founder Ice Cube followed by 8 teams filled with former NBA stars playing four half-court 3-on-3 games in one night grab you?

And don’t forget that five of those teams are coached by Hall of Famers Julius Erving (Tri State), George Gervin (Ghost Ballers), Gary Payton (3 Headed Monsters), Rick Barry (Ball Hogs) and Nancy Lieberman, the league’s first female coach. Lieberman is coaching Power, the team Drexler coached last season.

“Nancy is one of the most competitive people I know,’’ Drexler said of the former college and WNBA star and current Sacramento Kings assistant coach. “She’s a winner. She knows the game of basketball, she’s a leader and I think she’s going to do very well in the Big3.’’

No one knows the city or the game as well as Drexler, who started working his magic here at Sterling High then caught everyone’s eye at the University of Houston as a founding member of Phi Slama Jama. He went on to become a 10-time NBA All-Star at Portland and Houston, helped the Rockets to the 1995 NBA title and has had his No. 22 jersey retired by the Cougars, Trailblazers and Rockets.

He coached the Big3’s Power to a tie for third in the inaugural season – Trilogy beat 3 Headed Monsters for the 2017 title - and said this year’s league has even more talent.

Drexler said about 80 former NBA players competed for 17 open roster spots this season.

“The talent level has risen and the game is becoming more and more popular,’’ Drexler said. “People are getting familiar with the names. We only have 8 teams, we only play for 10 weeks, but all eight teams play every single week in the same arena. We play four games. So when you go, you get to see all these players, all these Hall of Famers.

“It is a festival of basketball. It’s very competitive.’’

The league has a 4-point shot (30-footers from set spots) and a 14-second shot clock. The first team to 25 points is halftime and the first team to 50 points, provided it is up by 2, wins the game. “So the games can go quick,’’ Drexler said, “or they can take a while.”

Last year  Drexler’s team included Cuttino Mobley and Corey Maggette. This year, Power added Chris “Birdman” Andersen, Glen “Big Baby “ Davis, and Quentin Richardson.

Trilogy won last year with Al Harrington and Rashad McCants and added Kenyon Martin and James White. Tri State added Nate Robinson and A’mare Stoudemire to go along with Jermaine O’Neal and Bonzi Wells. And the list goes on . .

League co-founders Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz are also committed to giving back to the communities starting with the Young3 initiative for players 7-14 years old. The Young3 will be played Thursday morning at the Boys and Girls’ Clubs.

The Big3 also refurbishes courts in the cities where they play and Drexler said Houston’s project will be in Acres Homes.

Additionally, Drexler said about 1,000 tickets will be made available to Santa Fe High school students who want to attend the event. The community is still healing from the recent tragic shooting at the school.

“We want to show them the love,’’ Drexler said. “We want to let them know that people care about them all over the world and especially here in the city of Houston and shine a little spotlight on them.’’

The Big3 did not play in Houston last year, but Drexler hopes what he calls the best 3-on-3 league will draw big crowds and keep Houston on the league’s schedule.

“With 3-on-3 professional basketball, It doesn’t get any better than the Big3,’’ he said, “So when it comes to your town, you don’t want to miss it.’’





 

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Houston goes up 1-0 in the series

Altuve, Correa help lift Astros to ALCS Game 1 win over Red Sox

Carlos Correa's go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of ALCS Game 1 helped lift the Astros to a 1-0 series lead. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite one rough loss to the White Sox in the ALDS, the Astros looked like the dominant team they are capable of being, taking that series 3-1 to advance and taking ownership of home-field advantage in the ALCS against the Red Sox, who upset the Rays. In Game 1, despite trailing for the middle portions of the game, Houston would get more highlight moments from the faces of the franchise to start the series with a win.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 4

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek

Losing Pitcher: Hansel Robles

Houston strikes first, but Boston sends Valdez to an early exit

Both starting pitchers worked in and out of trouble in the early goings of ALCS Game 1, starting with Framber Valdez in the top of the first. After erasing a leadoff single by inducing a double play, he went on to load the bases on a single and two walks but would strand all three runners to keep Boston off the board. The Astros jumped in front in the bottom half, with Jose Altuve working a leadoff walk, moving to second on a one-out single by Alex Bregman, advancing to third on a wild pitch, then ultimately scoring on a sac fly by Yordan Alvarez to put Houston ahead 1-0 after one frame.

They had a chance to extend their lead in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a shaky inning by Chris Sale, who loaded the bases with one out as Houston would get two singles and a hit-by-pitch. That flipped the order over to the top, but a great diving catch by former Astro Kiké Hernández would end the inning. Hernández led off the top of the third against Valdez, and he would tie things up with a solo homer.

Things went downhill from there for Valdez and the Astros, as a one-out walk followed by a single gave the Red Sox the go-ahead run in scoring position. On a groundball that likely should have been a double play to end the inning, it would get through Altuve's legs, scoring a run and keeping the inning alive for Boston. They took advantage, getting an RBI double to extend their new lead to 3-1. Valdez would get one more out before Dusty Baker would give him the early hook, bringing in Yimi Garcia, who finished the frame.

A battle of the bullpens, Altuve ties it up

Like Valdez, Sale would also not make it through three innings, getting two outs while putting two on base before Boston would start their bullpen's night as well. Both sets of relievers settled the game down, with the Red Sox stranding two of Houston's runners in the third as well as the fifth, maintaining their two-run lead. After Garcia finished the third, Cristian Javier entered to eat up a couple of innings, and he would do just that by getting through two frames with just one hit, four strikeouts, and no runs.

Next, Phil Maton took over in the top of the sixth and erased a leadoff walk to keep things in striking distance for the home team. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put another runner on base, getting a one-out single by Chas McCormick. Two batters later, with two outs, Jose Altuve provided yet another career postseason highlight, tying the game 3-3 with a two-run home to re-energize the Minute Maid Park crowd.

Astros take ALCS Game 1

Now a brand new ballgame in the top of the seventh, Brooks Raley came in to face three batters, getting two strikeouts while allowing a single before Dusty Baker would move on to Ryne Stanek, who would get the third out. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Carlos Correa continued his march to a monster off-season contract, putting Houston back on top with a solo homer, making it 4-3.

Houston kept the script after Stanek with the new lead in hand, going to Kendall Graveman as the setup man in the top of the eighth. Despite a two-out single, he would get out of the inning with the lead intact, putting Houston three outs away from the victory. After a walk, single, and hit by pitch to start the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, Altuve would drive in his third run of the game, getting a sac fly to extend the lead to two runs at 5-3.

That insurance run proved pivotal, as closer Ryan Pressly was met with a leadoff solo home run by Hernandez, his second of the night for Boston, to make it 5-4. Pressly refocused and was able to get the next three batters in order, though, wrapping up the win to start Houston off with a 1-0 series lead and putting them three wins away from advancing to the World Series.

Up Next: The two teams will have a moderately quick turnaround, with ALCS Game 2 scheduled to start at 3:20 PM Central on Saturday ahead of NLCS Game 1 between the Dodgers and Braves getting the night slot. The pitching matchup is expected to be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his two starts this postseason, going opposite Luis Garcia, who had a rough outing in the ALDS for Houston, giving up five runs without completing three innings in Chicago.

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