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Puerto Rico celebrates arrival of Mavericks’ Barea

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SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO (AP) - Dallas Mavericks point guard Jose Juan Barea arrived in his native Puerto Rico on Wednesday to a hero's welcome that included a two-hour caravan under a blistering sun.

"I'm proud of what I, along with my teammates, accomplished in the finals, but I'm more proud of being a Puerto Rican. Hard work is the key to everything in life," Barea told more that 1,000 fans at the Puerto Rico Olympic Committee House in San Juan.

The 26-year-old Barea was first greeted by hundreds of ecstatic Puerto Ricans at the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, including the island's governor, Luis Fortuno.

"Puerto Rico is celebrating, and for me, it is a proud moment to have the opportunity to celebrate with Jose Juan in our homeland," Fortuno said.

Barea, who helped the Mavericks win their first NBA title, said he was humbled by the warm reception he received early Wednesday afternoon.

"This has been an incredible journey. I'm so proud to be home among my people," he said.

Following a brief photo session, Barea and a few dozen fans ventured into the streets of San Juan.

"This is a memorable moment for all Puerto Ricans. We have a player that contributed in a major way toward an NBA championship. That by itself is an amazing accomplishment," said Carla Jimenez, a 23-year-old law student who arrived at the airport at 7 a.m. to greet Barea.

On Thursday, Barea plans to visit his hometown, the western coastal city of Mayaguez, which has another parade planned for him.

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