In a town with a long history of basketball royalty, a team of shoeless boys from Mexico is making fans everywhere it goes.
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The team of 10- and 11-year-olds from the poor, indigenous Triqui region of Oaxaca, famous in Mexico and other Latin countries, is known for practicing and often playing without shoes, and several players went without them during the first of several exhibitions this week in Southern California.
The boys, who have received donated shoes but still often play without them, made a big impression on their opponent after winning with their tenacity.
"They come out here with no shoes and play their hearts out," Derek Morhar of the Top Flight club team told the LA Daily News. "They’re really good."
"Poverty doesn’t stop them," said Gerardo Vasquez, president of the Federation of Oaxacan Communities and Indigenous Organizations in California, which sponsored the trip. "With or without shoes, they are always fighting to move forward. This is what inspires us."
The Triqui team will get a little inspiration itself on the trip — the team is scheduled to attend a Lakers game.