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November 28, 2014

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NBA Day 6: Former Rebel Essengue is crutch free

Former UNLV center Gaston Essengue ambled around the Thomas & Mack Center concourse during Wednesday’s games in white sneakers, jeans, a white T-shirt and white ball cap.

He walked without the aid of crutches.

That in itself was a big positive for the 6-foot-10 center who helped the Rebels beat Georgia Tech and Wisconsin to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament in March 2007.

Essengue signed a contract with a pro club in Turkey, but a foot injury limited him to only seven preseason games and five regular-season games in Europe.

He spent about five months in Turkey. In the middle of that span, he returned to Las Vegas – with crutches. At the end of it, he again returned to Las Vegas. Again, with crutches.

He said he’s a few weeks from the foot being completely sound, but he does not plan on returning to Turkey. It was a bad experience, he said, because of the bad wheel. He hopes to play for a team in France in 2008-09.

Then he walked to an ice cream vendor

Super fan — Marsha Soash, a 56-year-old school cafeteria manager from the San Fernando Valley in California, is the most ardent fan at the NBA Summer League.

Easily.

Wednesday, she was a one-woman wave. When the Los Angeles Clippers were on defense at the Cox Pavilion, she yelled, “Deee-Fense!” When they were on offense, she barked, “Let’s go Clippers,” followed by the requisite five hand claps.

She echoed throughout the arena

She spent the first quarter of the Clippers’ game against Memphis in a special red, white and blue leather recliner just outside a corner of the court, because of her enthusiasm.

At the end of the first quarter, if she answered a question from a roving p.a. announcer, she could remain in that choice seat for the rest of the game.

Who are the two most recent additions to the Clippers’ roster?

Baron Davis and Marcus Camby, she correctly answered.

She was the energy of the audience.

Her and her husband were part of a 53-person Clipper Nation contingent that rode a bus from L.A. to see the Clippers play here Friday and Saturday. They went back home Sunday, but Soash and her husband returned by car to see the Clippers continue playing.

They’ve had Clippers season tickets for the past five seasons.

Hot item — The best-selling Summer League product, according to one vendor, has been the $48 reversible jerseys. They’re black on one side and gray on the other. Caps are going for $25 and assorted T-shirts run about $20 apiece.

Another returnee — Romel Beck is another ex-Rebel back on familiar turf.

Beck played in the Mack last summer for the Mexican national team, which was coached by former Arkansas boss Nolan Richardson, in the FIBA Americas tournament that the U.S. dominated.

Mexico could not advance to an Olympic qualifying tournament in Athens.

Beck is playing with the Houston Rockets at the Summer League. He had been nursing an injury but the lanky guard returned Wednesday, flying around on the wings and circling under the basket on familiar wood.

He scored five points as the Rockets fought to tie the Cleveland Cavaliers, 24-24, in the second quarter.

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