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Thursday May 8, 2008 11:18 AM


Ballin' on the Blacktop


Rockets host three-on-three tournament and skills competitions

HOUSTON -- Before arriving to the Houston Rockets' Blacktop Battle presented by Amerigroup Community Care, R.J. Readeaux figured that he'd have a decent chance of winning the event's three-point competion.

He just wasn't sure if he was going to get an opportunity to win it.

"I was on the waiting list," said Readeaux, a 19-year old Houston native. "I almost didn't do it because I had been waiting 1 1/2 hours to get a chance to shoot. I didn't think my name was going to get called."

He got called alright.

Despite being a last-minute entry into the three-point competition, Readeaux made the most of his long wait and claimed a championship trophy for his long-range shooting over this weekend's Blacktop Battle presented by Amerigroup Community Care.

The three-point shooting contest was part of a two-day hoops event outside Toyota Center. Just like the past two years, the Blacktop Battle, presented by Amerigroup Community Care, allowed Rockets fans to compete in a three-on-three basketball tournament and a collection of skills competitions in the streets of Houston. The top four finishers in all divisions of the three-on-three tournament qualified for Hoop It Up's national tournament in Miami.

Besides the three-point competition, the streetballer's showcase included a slam-dunk contest and a skills challenge. The dunk contest was judged by Clutch the Bear and Rockets public address announcer John Paul Stevenson along with a collection of Rockets Power Dancers and Launch Crew members. Excluding the slam dunk contest, the three-on-three tournament and individual events had competitions for all ages.

For Readeaux, that meant having a chance to show off his shotting range.

"I think one of the main reasons that I did win is because I put up a lot of shots before the competition," Readeaux said. "I got a a little bit of practice. I was pretty much ready to go."

No kidding.

During the opening round of the competition, Readeaux was the last shooter on the main court. He stroked eight three-pointers to tie two other challengers for the top spot. Since the competition couldn't award three winners, the trio of three-point specialists had their competition extended into a final, winner-take-all shootout.

With only four balls and one money ball worth two points to shoot off one rack, the three finalists were each given a round to win the championship trophy. Readeaux watched his first two challengers struggle, with the second shooter sinking only the money ball to take the lead with two points.

That was all Readeaux needed. He stroked his first two jumpers and then, after missing his third shot, canned his fourth attempt to win the competition.

"Nothing but net," Readeaux said. "It was a good competition. I knew what I had to do after seeing the first two guys go. I hit enough to win."

Not bad for a guy who wasn't even sure if he was going to be in the competition.