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Force Fall to Legends in Reno

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RENO, NEV., Jan. 11, 2012 – Greg Ostertag once made a substantial living banging in the low post with the likes of Patrick Ewing and Anthony Mason. Today, he’s five years removed from his last NBA game, running up and down the court with their sons – Anthony Mason Jr. and Patrick Ewing Jr. of the Sioux Falls Skyforce, attempting a comeback.

At 38, and with only two weeks of steady conditioning under his sizable belt, the odds are likely stacked against him, though it’s hard to knock a guy for missing the game and trying to do something about it.

The Texas Legends weren’t interested in any NBA history lessons. Instead, they focused on not dumping an 18-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter. Mission accomplished, as the Legends hung on for a 98-95 victory at the 2012 NBA D-League Showcase.

With the Legends nursing a 92-90 lead, Booker Woodfox banked in a three-pointer with 21.3 seconds left in the game to give Texas a 95-90 lead. Casey Mitchell then hit a three for Sioux Falls, trimming the lead to two. The Legends’ Drew Neitzel got fouled and made 1-of-2 to put Texas up 96-93. Sioux Falls took the quick two-point basket to pull within a point, before Woodfox calmly hit two free throws to give Texas its final margin of victory.

Woodfox led Texas with 20 points. Neitzel added 17 points on 5-for-8 shooting. Ostertag made the most of his 21 minutes, finishing with 10 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Though his conditioning is not close to where it needs to be at this point, Ostertag plays with the wisdom of an 11-year NBA veteran, knowing where to position himself in order to take advantage of his size.

Mason Jr. had a strong game Sioux Falls, finishing with 28 points on 12-for-21 shooting, to go with nine rebounds. Undrafted in 2010 out of St. John’s, Mason has shown vast improvement over his year-plus in the NBA D-League. Physically, he can compete at an NBA level. His overall game still needs polish.

Trey Gilder added 17 points for the Skyforce, while Charles Garcia finished up with 14 points and seven rebounds. When engaged, Garcia is a handful from a physical standpoint. His broad-shouldered, cut-up physique is clearly NBA caliber. His mantra is consistency and focus.

Ewing Jr., who just signed with Sioux Falls today, finished with six points and two rebounds in 17 minutes. An All-NBA D-League Third Team selection a year ago, Ewing, once he gets into playing shape, should be a nice addition for the Skyforce.
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