You’ve met the talented amateur ballers from the United States, Canada, China, Taiwan and the Philippines. Now it’s time to find out who else will be joining them on the court for The Sprite Uncontainable Game in Houston during NBA All-Star 2013.
Every region had their own way of selecting the participants. In Puerto Rico, for example, more than 500 players showed up for a two-day, 1-on-1 basketball tournament. At the end of the 48 hours, six players reigned supreme — and NBA stars Andrea Bargnani, Al Horford, Omri Casspi, Serge Ibaka, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James chose them to join their respective teams: Intense or Sudden.
Ready to meet them? Here are the lucky players from Puerto Rico and Mexico:
Jesus Roberto Ramos
- Team Intense
- Age: 22
- Height/Weight: 6’2”, 180 lbs.
- Hometown: Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico
Called Peluca (or “Wig”) by teammates thanks to his long locks, Jesus Roberto Ramos has been racking up MVP awards since he could dribble a ball. “My experience playing basketball has been successful,” he says. Ramos currently plays for the state-level team when he’s not working his day job in construction or heading to the beach with his wife Jessica and son Yeanziel. So what’s he most looking forward to in Houston? “Meeting Kobe and LeBron,” he says. “I still can’t believe I will be playing for them.”
Jaime Rivera De Jesus
- Team Sudden
- Age: 27
- Height/Weight: 6’2”, 194 lbs.
- Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Jaime Rivera De Jesus has come a long way since his first time playing basketball in a friend’s backyard, heaving the ball toward a wooden backboard. Playing for his high school team, De Jesus won an athletic scholarship to the University of Sagrado Corazon in Santurce. When he’s not at work at a local restaurant, De Jesus plays street pick-up ball and hits the gym. Friends call him La Maquina (or “The Machine”) “because once I get the ball it doesn’t matter who is in front of me ... I’m going straight to the basket.” Which is exactly what he intends to do at the Game. “Every time I play, I give my 100 percent best.”
Alan Baltazar Matron Nuñez
- Team Intense
- Age: 16
- Height/Weight: 6’, 172 lbs.
- Hometown: Durango, Durango
For four hours every day, Alan Baltazar Matron Nunez works out, lifts weights and runs basketball drills — which may be why he was a driving force in helping the Mexican national basketball team in El Salvador win a silver medal last year. When he’s not on the court or at school, Nunez likes to hang with his girlfriend and family. “They always support me in reaching my goals,” he says. One of those goals has always been to meet Kobe Bryant. “He is my idol, so playing on his team will be just unbelievable!”
Emmanuel Salvador Piña Guzmán
- Team Sudden
- Age: 19 years old
- Height/Weight: 6’4”, 190 lbs.
- Hometown: Cancun, Quintana Roo
When he’s not in school or hanging with his friends and family, you can most assuredly find Emmanual Slavador Pina Guzman on the court. “Above all else, I play basketball,” he says. But the Uncontainable Game is the first time he has been recognized for his talent. “I’m so excited for the opportunity to meet NBA players and visit the U.S.,” he says. Until then, he’ll just keep practicing and focusing on his simple strategy: “To get along with all the players and do my part.”
Gerardo Neftali López Rivera
- Team Sudden
- Age: 24
- Height/Weight: 6’1”, 172 lbs.
- Hometown: Edo. México [In this case I believe Mexico is the region name, not the country name I left it as they sent it in.]
Though right-handed, Gerardo Neftali Lopez Rivera shoots with his left hand, which earned him the nickname Lefty Lopez as a boy. Since then, he’s been racking up other titles as the winner of multiple slam-dunk contests, 3-point shooting competitions and 3-on-3 tournaments. But when he’s not playing ball, he’s coaching for two different school teams, as well as studying for his B.A. in athletic coaching at the National School of Sports Trainers. In Houston, he’s excited to play against the best players in the world, but they’re not his biggest competition: “The biggest rival is the person you see when you look into the mirror every morning.” Which is why he’s up at 5:30 a.m. every day to start training. “You cannot leave anything to chance or simply wait to see what happens.”