George Hill was having fun on the floor of the Manuel Garza B. Gymnasium Saturday night.
The National Basketball Association star, who played with the San Antonio Spurs for three years, was the star of the night as he scored 38 points to lead the Texas Fuel to a 119-93 victory over the West Texas Whirlwinds at the Manuel Garza B. Gymnasium in an exhibition American Basketball Association (ABA) game.
It was the first professional basketball game played in Brownsville in at least 35 years. Prior to Saturday, the only basketball games that had been played at Garza Gym were youth league games, intramurals, and club basketball.
The scoreboard could not even keep up with the two professional teams. There was no digit "1" to show 100 points when the Fuel crossed that milestone with 7:32 left in the game. The score was 101-75 at the time, and Fuel coach Marlon Minifee told his team, "Now you're losing by 74 points" because the scoreboard showed the score as 75 to 1.
Most of the 240 people who were there came to see Hill. Even two die-hard San Antonio Spurs' season-ticket holders came down from San Antonio when they heard that Hill would be playing in Brownsville.
Hill did not disappoint. He scored 29 of his 38 points in the first half. He had eight assists, two steals, two rebounds, and two blocks. He tried to get to 40 points late in the game, but his teammates could not get the ball to him in the last two minutes.
DeAndre Hall added 27 points for the Fuel while center Lamar Garfield-Wright, who stands at 6-foot-10, had 21 points. Anwar Ferguson, the tallest player on the floor at 7-foot-1, had two points.
Marlo Saunders led the Whirlwinds, based out of Midland-Odessa, with 22 points. Ned Simmons had 21, Barry Whitley 17 and Wyshawn Wade had 14.
Hill, who was traded from the Spurs to the Indiana Pacers in June, is playing the two exhibition games for the Fuel as he tries to stay in shape while the National Basketball Association lockout is ongoing. Other NBA players are also playing in exhibition games in the United States, Europe and Asia to stay conditioned.
"It was fun to play with the guys who have been in the ABA," Hill said. "This is the first time I have been on a court since July 16. I'm a little out of shape, but that comes with the territory.
Hill has been doing his off-season training in Brownsville and will continue to do so. "I wi.ll stay here in Brownsville and at UTB and work on my game until the lockout is over."
A larger crowd is expected for Sunday's 6 p.m. game on the UTB/TSC campus. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children under 13. For ticket information, call 210-606-6360.