‘This tournament is more than just a basketball game. It is an opportunity for our community to unite and build a stronger support system for one another’
Several inmates celebrated the holidays with a half-court basketball one-day elimination tournament. Adnan Khan led his team to a 19-12 victory.
“Events like this put the unity in community,” said Khan.
“I consider these guys my family. This was the next best thing to being with family for the holidays,” said Rafael Cuevas.
Seven teams, with members picked in rounds like a draft, battled to win the prize of one soda, Snickers, honey bun and a pack of vanilla cookies each.Any team with two losses was booted from the contest.
After playing about five games, the two teams in the finals were Khan, Cuevas, Harold Meeks, Tom Saevang and Jonathan Chui pitted against Phirak Kim, Damon Cooke, Alladin Pangilinan, Nick Lopez and Phoeun You.
“I want you to score at least 11 points. We got the other eight. That’s teamwork,” Cuevas told Khan just before the game started.
Khan did much more than that. He scored 16 points and snatched 12 rebounds.
“My team played exceptional defense and got me the ball so I could make easy shots,” said Khan.
Pangilinan, who was guarding Khan, answered back with six points and six rebounds, but Khan was unstoppable, hitting layups, short-range jumpers, making shots from three-point range and a technical free-throw that was worth three points.
“He got away from me,” said Pangilinan. “I’m 38; he’s only 21. Main thing is having fun and playing with passion. We did that.”
“This tournament is more than just a basketball game. It is an opportunity for our community to unite and build a stronger support system for one another,” You said about the Dec. 26 event.
“It was a good tournament. Friendly games, hardly any technical fouls, high energy and everybody played great,” said John Wang, the tournament organizer.
For the second year in a row, Lopez tricked the opposing team into passing him the ball by calling a fake check. He then laid the ball up for an easy basket.
Another team that did well was Vi Chau, Eli Fejeran, David Kim and Donald Ray “Texas” Walker Jr. A key player, Reginald Hola, couldn’t make it to the game. Despite missing one of their best, they upset several teams and made it to the final four.
“Playing ball feels good; it releases a lot of stress,” said Fejeran.
“We have to do this more often,” said Juilo Saca, who played in the tournament.