MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Texas-born Mason Cox cemented his stardom in a sport little known to most Americans when he helped Collingwood to an upset win over the West Coast Eagles Saturday in a playoff match in Australia’s Australian Rules football league.
Cox, who stands 6′9″ (2.11 meters) and plays as a ruckman or key forward for the Collingwood Magpies, took three contested marks and turned all three into goals to give his team an unexpected first quarter lead against the 2018 champions.
After his second goal Cox poked out his tongue and held up two fingers in a demonstration of the showmanship which has become part of his approach to a game he first played in 2014.
“Get a load of the swagger and the strut. The Big American loves the big stage,” television commentator Luke Darcy said.
Fans voted Cox Man of the Match, as he led his Collingwood team to a narrow one point victory.
“He’s showing us his best football now,” Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said of Cox. “He’s really hard to defend when he keeps going to the ball at the highest point.
“When he’s aggressive in his body work he’s really hard to stop. Defenders nearly need to sacrifice a play at the ball to be able to go at him.”
West Coast coach Adam Simpson admitted Cox’s early goals had put his team on the back foot.
“They were three good marks. It’s a little bit unusual for our boys to concede that,” Simpson said.
“Unfortunately in finals especially when they go for 100 minutes, conceding three goals in a row puts you on the back foot. It didn’t cost us the game, but it helped set up the game.”
The 29-year-old Cox was born in suburban Dallas and attended Edward S. Marcus High School where he was a member of a state championshp-winning soccer team. He later briefly played NCAA division one basketball at Oklahoma State University.
He attended a trial for potential Australian Rules players in Los Angeles in 2014 and moved to Australia where he was drafted by Collingwood, playing his first AFL game in 2016.
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