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LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The only rest the AAU team Mac Irvin Fire experienced early yesterday was between games on a 10-mile van ride to and from gyms.
The Chicago-based group that includes Class of 2014 Arizona recruiting targets Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander tipped off their day with a quarterfinal game of the Las Vegas Classic at 10:10 a.m. at Spring Valley High School.
After winning that game, they quickly boarded their van and headed to the Impact Basketball facility south of The Strip to play at 12:30 p.m. in the championship game of The8 tournament, which featured NBA players Chris Paul (head of the CP3 All-Stars AAU program), Carmelo Anthony (Team Melo), Anthony Davis (Mean Streets) and two-time NBA champion and TNT personality Kenny Smith (Aim High) as head coaches.
After disposing of Team Takeover 69-51 to win The8 Championship, the Mac Irvin Fire boarded their van to head back to Spring Valley for a semifinal that was scheduled to start at 1:25 p.m.. Tournament officials waited until 2 for Mac Irvin to arrive and promptly started the game.
From the start against Seattle Rotary, Mac Irvin Fire looked like it was running on empty and ultimately lost 69-57. Okafor, a 6-foot-10 and 270-pound post player, sat most of the first half to regain his energy. He finished with only 10 points with two field goals. Alexander, nursing a deep thigh bruise, did the smart thing and took the day off to allow his injury to heal.
“The tournament (Las Vegas Classic) was a lot of fun, but in the last game (against Seattle Rotary), we didn’t really have any gas left,” said Okafor, one of the top prospects in the Class of 2014.
“We played nine to 10 games in the last two days. I know people say we’re young and that we shouldn’t be tired. I don’t know what that means. It’s been a very long summer.”