Ted Cruz prepares for basketball showdown with Jimmy Kimmel

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Saturday, June 16, 2018
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Sen. Ted Cruz hits the hardwood ahead of Saturday's 'Blobfish Classic'

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- We are one day away from the highly-anticipated one-on-one basketball game between Senator Ted Cruz and late night host Jimmy Kimmel. The trash talk has increased and preparation for the game itself has begun.

The official name for the event is "The Blobfish Basketball Classic."

Cruz was a varsity player in high school and recently showed footage of his practice. He said his group is afraid Kimmel will dunk on him and will pull down his pants if it occurs.

"He can certainly shoot off his mouth," Cruz said. "We'll see if he can shoot the ball."

Former University of Houston player Lynden Rose assisted Cruz in running drills at First Baptist. Cruz seems to still have a little left in the tank from his high school days.

"His basketball IQ is off the chart," Rose said. "I've never seen anyone with that type of basketball IQ. He picks it up easy. He'll figure it out."

This game originated from Kimmel saying Cruz looked like a blobfish while at Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals.

Texas Southern University is the location for the event on June 16. All proceeds will go to the Texas Children's Hospital and Generation One.

Cruz's November opponent, Beto O'Rouke, is also in the Houston area this weekend.

Eyewitness News asked him what he thinks of the game.

"I think it's great that they're playing and they're going to contribute to what they raised to charities," O'Rouke said. "May the best man win, but I want to make sure that I continue to take the opportunity to listen to as many people in this state."

Cruz said he's playing the game for Houston, but Rice University Professor Mark Jones said don't let that fool you.

"Ted Cruz is often accused of being a cyborg from the future," Jones said. "Someone who's not entirely human. This is something that humanizes Ted Cruz, and makes him seem like a regular guy. Someone who can take the heat but also dish it out going after Jimmy Kimmel."

Jones said Cruz has eyes set on November, and this game will only help.

"This is something that helps him more than it hurts him," Jones said. "Therefore will assist him in in beating Beto O'Rouke in November perhaps by 10.5 points instead of 10 point."

In addition to playing a game, Kimmel will conduct an interview Cruz. The pair will also discuss politics while playing basketball. The episode will air Monday night after Eyewitness News at 10:00 p.m.