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Astros turn to NBA legends Olajuwon, Drexler for luck

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by Jim SLATER

Trying to complete a championship comeback in the World Series, the Houston Astros turned to a pair of NBA legends Tuesday to help their fortunes, Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.

Nigerian-born American Olajuwon, a gifted center who led the Houston Rockets to two NBA titles, threw out the ceremonial first pitch at game six of the World Series with Drexler, a standout swingman on the 1995 Rockets’ championship squad, serving as catcher.

“To be in this position, it’s truly an honor,” Drexler said. “We’re all proud of the job that they’ve done.”

The Astros led the Washington Nationals 3-2 in Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven final looking to take the title at home after dropping the first two games in their own ballpark.

“You can see the disappointment last week,” Olajuwon said. “And just to see that turn around and to be in this position to close it, you can imagine the players — that was pressure.”

Olajuwon, like Drexler wearing an orange Astros jersey, bounced the ball into the strike zone for his teammate at the plate and both laughed about the moment as they walked off the field together.

Drexler, who made the ceremonial “Play Ball” yell to start the contest, and Olajuwon know a little about overcoming adversity when down 2-0 in a playoff series.

Trailing the Phoenix Suns 2-0 in the second round of the 1995 NBA playoffs, the Rockets rallied to advance in seven games and went on to sweep Orlando in the NBA Finals.

“These guys have the heart of a champion,” Drexler said. “They never quit, no matter what odds they’re up against.”

© Agence France-Presse