NMI BJJ team eyes medals in Guam

Cuki Alvarez, center, and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu professor Clinton Dela Cruz, third left, will be leading Team CNMI in the 2018 Marianas Open BJJ Tournament on April 22 in Guam. From left, Kier Agda, Ken Tanzawa, Paulo Sangalang, Giovonni Taitingfong, and Jeff Garcia are the other members of the team. (Contributed Photo)

The seven members of the CNMI Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Team are in high spirits and looking forward to bringing home medals of any color as they participate in the 2018 Marianas Open BJJ Tournament on April 22 in Guam.

TrenchTech Gym owner and promoter Cuki Alvarez will be competing as a brown belt, while BJJ professor Clinton Dela Cruz is the lone black belter on the team that also has Kier Agda (white belt), Ken Tanzawa (purple belt), and blue belters Paulo Sangalang, Giovonni Taitingfong, and Jeff Garcia as members.

Alvarez said they expect the competition to be stiff as they are going up against the best grapplers and submission fighters in one of Guam’s premier BJJ tournaments.

“Our team had trained hard and we are confident that we will be competitive. We know we are going up against tough and experienced competitors, but that motivates us more. Our goal is to medal in our respective divisions,” said Alvarez.

“We’re very excited and in high spirits. The fellowship and camaraderie within our team have grown tremendously the past few months. And since this is our first time traveling together to compete in a BJJ tournament, it’s something that we are looking forward to,” he added.

This is not the first time that the CNMI competed in the same tournament, as several fighters from the Commonwealth have joined the event individually.

“There have been a few independent competitors from Saipan in the past, mostly individuals. This, however, will be the largest, competing as a team and in all belt divisions,” said Alvarez.

Alvarez, who last month asked for support from the community, thanked all the businesses and individuals that responded to help fund their trip: MARPAL, Team Crank Industries, crankeffect.com, Hertz, and an anonymous donor.

Alvarez, who won a gold medal in the Masters 37-Up purple belt absolute gi division in the 10th Copa de Marianas Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Tournament in Guam, will be leaving Saipan on Thursday, while the rest of the team will follow him on Friday.

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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