First-timers deliver for Team NMI


Kier Agda tries to keep his top position against his opponent in the 191-205 lbs weight class in the 2018 Marianas Open Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Tournament held last Sunday at the Father Duenas Memorial School Phoenix Center in Mangilao, Guam. (Contributed Photo)

Cuki Alvarez was pleased with Team CNMI’s performance in last Sunday’s 2018 Marianas Open Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Tournament after they brought home three of the 76 medals at stake in the annual competition.

Team CNMI won a gold medal, courtesy of Giovonni Taitingfong, and two silvers from Kier Agda and Paolo Sangalang. Alvarez, BJJ professor Clinton Dela Cruz, Ken Tanzawa, and Jeff Garcia were not that lucky as they went up against tougher foes in their respective divisions.

“The team did exceptionally well, considering that most of them competed in a BJJ event for the first time. We’re coming home with medals and we’re going to continue to enter more tournaments in the future,” Alvarez told Saipan Tribune.

He added that the team was “super stoked” before the start of the tournament, as all were eager to showcase the skills they learned from months of hard training at the TrenchTech Saipan Gym.

It was a good turnout for Agda and Sangalang, as they gained the runner-up honors in their first off-island BJJ tournament with the latter also making his debut in a Gi event.

Agda, who has a white belt, lost by points to Spike 22’s Thomas Quitano in the 191-205 lbs weight class, while Sangalang settled for the silver when he bowed to Patrick Cruz of PureBred Jiu-jitsu Guam in the blue belt 146 -160 lbs division.

Taitingfong, also a blue belter, won the gold in the 131-145 lbs weight category. Alvarez said Taitingfong had competed in previous Marianas Open since he studied high school in Guam.

Garcia and Tanzawa also debuted in the tournament and went up against tougher opponents in the veteran-filled blue and purple belt divisions. Dela Cruz, meanwhile, was entered in the highly competitive black belt class. Alvarez, on the other hand, lost to eventual champion Kody Steele in the absolute brown belt division, denying him a chance to make it to the medal round.

“These guys are way younger than me, some are half of my age and Steele choked me out in the three-minute mark,” said Alvarez.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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