23 May 2012

The gringos go to a Mexican basketball game


Maybe basketball falls short of the sort of the general thrill Americans expect when on the far side of the border. Even though something so presumably un-Mexican as this, when set in what's technically a Mexican context, is kind of intriguing. Even if we're only 10 or so miles into the country. Situations like this remind border towns like Tijuana of not only its proximity to the U.S. but its ability to absorb, modify or mock gabacho culture in whatever way the masses see fit.
Tijuana has had its fair share of semi-pro basketball teams over the years. The Cosmos, the Galgos. But they've all folded for one reason or another, which has led to a leery fan base that's just now beginning to return to the stands to support Tijuana's most recent basketball baby, the Zonkeys.

Some 2,000 showed up to Friday to see the team take on the Culiacan Caballeros for its last regular-season game, a decent turnout in a town now obsessed with soccer after the Xoloitzcuintles' recent ascension into the major league. Ironically fútbol was once upon a time a colloquial faux pas in Tijuana (or so we've been told), a tacky chilango pastime that most norteños forwent in favor of the major league teams immediately north of the border.

On this particular evening of border town b-ball, Turista Libre was awarded the opening shot and although I missed I'm happy to report the ball at least made contact with the rim. Ever-personable announcer Tony Tee made a cheesy -- literally -- entrance onto the court on a Tooginos Pizza delivery motorcycle. Hot dogs were served to us in a repurposed microwave popcorn box. The team mascot monkeyed his way atop the backboards multiple times, floppy Zonkey head and all. The team medic danced a half-time performance with the El Florido meat market piggy mascot. The youngest active cheerleader was literally a baby, and we're guessing or at least hoping the man who managed to balance her while standing in his band was her father.

And the Zonkeys stampeded all over Culiacan. Final score: 100-76.

More photos.

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