Baltimore team hangs in but can't top Ball Up All-Stars in streetball showcase at Coppin

The Ball Up All-Stars, a team of streetball legends that's traveling the country this summer, are undefeated. But during warmups before the tour's Baltimore stop at Coppin State on Sunday night, Demetrius Spencer was perspiring like he was going through the shooting drills.

"I'll be honest with you, I'm worried about tonight," Spencer said before tip-off. "[Baltimore] might hand us our first loss."

Spencer wasn't playing. He's the CEO of Ball Up, a new streetball tour geared at "families and sports fans," and he thought his players, who danced out of a cloud of smoke under neon lights during pregame introductions, were in for a real test against Baltimore. The pro-Baltimore crowd, some of which yelled out "O's" at the proper juncture of the national anthem, wanted to see the upset that Spencer hoped to avoid.

Spencer's fears proved to be for naught, however, as his All-Stars pulled away in the final quarter to win 133-120.

Most of the players on the Baltimore team, handpicked at an afternoon tryout at Cloverdale Park, are accustomed to playing for pride and nothing more. These players, coached Sunday by former NBA and Dunbar High School standout Sam Cassell, went to schools like Towson and Prince George's Community College and keep playing just because they love the game.

Take Myron Howe, or "Air Borne," for example. Howe's playing days at Prince George's ended in 1998. Now, he seems to be wearing a different jersey every night. Cassell spotted Howe at the open tryout. He's no stranger to streetball tours — after his junior college career, he showcased his game on the AND1 tour.

When Howe took to Cloverdale Park for the tryout, he wanted more than to just make the squad. He wanted to be named one of the Baltimore team's two most valuable players. After the game, the coaching staffs granted that wish.

As the MVP, he is invited to travel to Atlanta for Ball Up's combine camp this week to try to earn a spot on the team that will challenge the Ball Up All-Stars at the tour's title game in Las Vegas on Saturday.

"Every time I strap my shoes on … I think I have a good chance to be MVP," Howe said.

The MVP of the championship in Las Vegas gets a much more gratifying reward — he'll get a roster spot with the All-Stars for the tour's next season.

"I would love that," Howe said. "I would love that."