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CLASS OF 2013 KINGS OF FRIARFEST

Sakazaki leads host class to 2nd title

By Nick Akimoto

You’ll rarely see the FD Jungle as packed and lively on any other night than the closing night of the FD Alumni Tournament, and this years Liberation Friday was no different. 

In the Gold Championship, the class of 99/01 would take care of business and secure a complete 59-34 win over 98/00. 

In the Maroon Matchup, the Class of 2013 accomplished the rare task of not only acquiring their second title in the tournament, but being one of the classes to do so while hosting the entire event. The other classes that won while hosting are 1982, 1991, 2002 and 2006.

“The quote for the tournament is ‘You’re tired? No, I’M TIRED!’ This is for the boys in the front, in the back, in the main arena, for 2023. This is for everybody who has supported and will continue to support Maroon and Gold for the rest of their lives. Happy to host. Happy to pass the baton down to 2014. Happy to have two times now on our backs. Still the youngest class to win this tournament. Come after us, Baby!,” said 2013’s Nate San Nicolas 

Gold Division 

In a matchup between four classes who all attended high school at the same time, the Class of 99/01 was able to get the better of 98/00 thanks to their suffocating full court man coverage from the first whistle. 

While 98/00 tried to feed Romeo Sanchez in the paint to get something going, it wouldn’t be enough as 99/01 would see shot after shot to put themselves up to a comfortable 31-13 lead at half. 

In the second half, 99/01 pulled back on their full court press and settled back into a half court zone defense, but would still continue to apply pressure as Frankie Perez would sink three threes in the second half to finish the night with a game-high 26 points and secure a 59-34 Gold Division Championship title. 

Maroon Division 

Championship game Player of the Game: Michael Sakazaki

There were many reasons why one would fail to anticipate this matchup at the beginning of the season. As host class, 2013 had been inundated with the intimidating task of running the three-week long tournament. 2022 was the second youngest group of graduates and had yet to win a single game coming into this tournament. 

By the final buzzer, both teams would demonstrate that they belonged in this moment. 

The ‘Giant Killers’ of ’22 hit the ground running, taking the challenge of guarding ’13’s Johnny Onedera and Michael Sakazaki head on. By putting the pressure on the two figureheads of ’13’s offense, ’22 was able to give EJ Acda daylight to knock down his mid-range shots and inject energy into the ’22 bench. At the end of the half, ’22 led 20-16.

In the second half, something clicked for the host class. 2013 decimated the four point deficit within the first minute, and Sakazaki hit a big momentum shifting three to put ’13 up for the first time in the game. 

Never one to back down, 2022 began to fight back even harder. The teams would back-and-forth, proceeding to leave the gym breathless as the two underdogs exchanged basket after basket. 

With ten minutes left in the game, 2013 had a narrow 31-29 lead, but the ‘Giant Killing’ class of 2022 had grown a knack for thriving in these conditions. 

After a free throw put ’22 down three, Kaine Santos rose up to hit a big and-1 three to tie the game. Just as those in attendance began to quiet down their excitement, ’13’s John Baza refused to give ’22 a single ounce of momentum by knocking down a quick three on the other end. 

The closing moments of the game were more of the same as 2022 would find their shots fall, but ’13 refused to give their nine-year juniors a single sigh of relief. 

As the final seconds ticked down, the hosting class of 2013 would rush the court to collect their second title in the FD Alumni Basketball Tournament. 

“At the end of the day, this tournament brings the whole Brotherhood together whether we won or 22 won. [22] got legs, man. I’m super happy for this next generation. Rest in Peace, Thomps taught us and paved the way, but his legacy through these boys lives on to this day. [2013 and 

2023] are my dogs, and these are my ride or die homies. They showed heart and character throughout this tournament, and that’s commitment and that’s Brotherhood,” said ’13’s Sakazaki.

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COMING SOON …

DPR Liberation Village Baseball Tournament

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