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October 22, 2013

A group of tribal Mexican boys without shoes won an international basketball tournament in Argentina.

The group of elementary school boys from Mexico's Triqui tribe won the 54-team tournament, which featured teams from Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The four-day tournament, in Argentina's Cordoba province, featured thousands of young players.

The Triqui team, though, got the nickname "Barefoot Giants of the Mountains" for their prowess on the basketball court. They stormed their way through the tournament, winning both close games and blowouts. Their slimmest margin of victory was 16, a 22-6 victory over Cordoba University. Their most lopsided win was an 86-3 pasting of Celestes.

Observers found the Triqui team's victories all the more remarkable because the boys weren't wearing shoes. Coach Sergio Zuniga said that the boys' families didn't have money to buy shoes, especially basketball shoes. The players were used to training and playing barefoot, Zuniga said.

The tribe is from the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Basketball is not new to the Triqui, who have been training young boys in the court sport since 2009. What sets the Triqui team apart, though, is the requirement that all team members maintain a high academic record. On Mexico's scale out of 10, Triqui players must have an average of 8.5 or higher in order to stay on the team.

The victorious "Barefoot Giants" will next take aim at an international tournament in Barcelona.


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