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THE FD ALUMNI REIGN OF ’06

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By Robert Balajadia

2006's Brian Aflague soars to the basket against 2003's Vince Estella in the 2012 FD Alumni Tournament. (GSPN photo)

2006’s Brian Aflague soars to the basket against 2002’s Vince Estella in the 2012 FD Alumni Tournament. (GSPN photo)

The last time the Father Duenas Friars won a IIAAG Basketball championship was back in 2006.  That same class has ruled the FD Alumni Basketball tournament for the past few years winning two back-to-back titles since coming out of high school and are now in contention for their fifth.

The four titles put them in a class not many graduating classes of FD are a part of.  The Class of 1982, led by Noy Javellana, Francis Diaz, and Seymour Payne, won seven championships while Class of 1991, including Shawn Leon Guerrero, J Onedera, Dominic Cruz, Luis Cruz, John Sgro and Harry Chang, have won five Alumni Titles.  Class of 1996 with Eddie Pelkey, Chris Fernandez, and Luis Blanco have won four along with 2006.

For the 2013 defending champions, the hardest part each year has been availability.  Team manager and key player AJ Reyes states that, “The most difficult part is getting in contact with everybody.  Some people travel for work and move to the states and I have to finding out how they’re doing and if they can play again every year.”

The championship team was led by star players like Julius Yu, Rob Leon Guerrero, and Brian Aflague.  All of whom still continue to play each year and have helped bring in the four titles won.

When asked about the importance of winning, Leon Guerrero and Reyes both agree that although playing together on the court is important the characters of each 2006 class member is of more importance.

“It’s not only how you present yourself as a player but also as an individual.  Winning the championship does not mean anything if we didn’t appreciate how we carried ourselves as people and respected what we are doing.  We’re not looking to make an example of everyone, but when people want to get competitive we’re more than capable of being competitive,” stated Reyes.

In other words, they are just having fun.

“I think our class has been fortunate to have a large group of classmates that enjoy playing together and competing in this alumni tournament.  A lot of our classmates still enjoy coming to the games to support us when we play, which builds on the brotherhood we formed during our school days. We’re brothers and we enjoy playing together, and I think that shows on the court,” stated Leon Guerrero.

THE END IS NIGH?

Duane Dominguez got an easy layup at the rim courtesy of a stylish pass from Mike Sgro as the boys defeated the class of 2002 in a close one. (GSPN photo)

Duane Dominguez got an easy layup at the rim courtesy of a stylish pass from Mike Sgro as the boys defeated the class of 2002 in a close one. (GSPN photo)

It is cliche, but all good things come to and end.  Just how much longer can the Class of 2006 sit atop the throne?

San Nicolas, from ’91, helped his class win their last title in 2005 and knows first hand that winning gets harder every year.  Although, he believes 2006 has still got a lot of basketball to showcase in the tournament since they started winning early.

“I think they have about 10 more good years left in them, until they reach 37-years-old.  The older they get the more they settle down.  This team has shown up early, which is good for them but who knows, they might not be able to get to the championship again.  They have a really good combination of big men and guards and they can run so they match up well against anybody,” stated San Nicolas.

Leon Guerrero, however, admits that his class is very fortunate saying, “we don’t really know how much longer this can last. To have so many of our group living on island, makes it easier to maintain our level of success, but you never know with these things. I think that we all just enjoy the ride, and we’re happy to share that kind of success as brothers and sons of Father Duenas.”

Reyes is more concerned about the teams health saying that injuries can happen, but it helps that the ballers in the 2006 class stay in shape year round.

San Nicolas feels the teams that offer the most competition against 2006 are a complete and healthy 1996 team, the combination of classes 90-93-94, 2004 with Willie Stinnett, and 2002 with Vince Estella and Sean Perez.

The Class of 2006 begin their quest for a fifth championship against the Class of 2010 on opening night of the Alumni Tournament, Friday night at the FD Jungle.

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