By Kiyanna Noel
Everyone thinks their team is the best only to find out that the defending champions are undefeated for a reason. For the second year in a row, Brooklyn takes home the win in Fuerza: the BIPOC Student Union’s seventh annual Battle of the Boroughs basketball tournament.
In the recreational gym of Memorial Hall April 14, five teams faced off against each other to determine which is the best borough in New York City, as well as who will have bragging rights until next year.
The teams that played were the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. The gym was packed with students and staff repping their boroughs and screaming for their friends, some yelling “miss” in order to sabotage the other team. Each team rostered players from the SUNY Plattsburgh basketball team.
The first round was Staten Island vs. Queens. President Shelby Disla was coach of the Queens team, which had two basketball players, Erik Salo and Franklin Infante. Coach of the Staten Island team, Fuerza’s event coordinator Christopher Navarro also had two basketball players on their team, Ladan Graves and Levi Delaney. Queens won the first round with an eight-point difference and scored 34-26.
The second round was Bronx vs. Manhattan. Coach for the Bronx was Fuerza’s historian Jeidy Aloi, whose team had two players from the school’s team, Justin Blanchett and Sheriff Conteh. Manhattan’s coaches were Fuerza’s treasurer Glendaliz Espinal and public relations chair Nekaybaw Ross. They had two basketball players on their team, Darren Wright and Willard Anderson Jr. The team also had player Jonah Baker-Flora, who made the final layup, making the Bronx beat Manhattan with a score of 45-29.
“It was amazing. I had to just get those shots up and I knew I’m about to be in there ballin’. It’s my first time playing and I’m blessed. I’m blessed to have this opportunity for Fuerza,” Baker-Flora said after his teammates supported him before he made the final two shots for the Bronx.
Although she had no basketball experience prior to this, Aloi was happy with how her team performed and knew each win would be an easy win.
“I knew it would happen. I’m really confident in my team, they’re really playing well and they listen to me, which is most important,” Aloi said. “Next, we play Queens, which is another easy dub.”
The third game was between Manhattan and Staten Island. This game was to determine who would be eliminated from the semifinal to face off against the Brooklyn team. The Brooklyn team was allowed to skip a round of competition because of last year’s win. Manhattan was eliminated with a score of 32-35.
The fourth game was the Bronx vs. Queens. This game was in place to determine who would be going to the final round. The Bronx won with a score of 40-32.
“We’re still winners for sure. I think our playing definitely had to do with the break between our games. My team had a little bit of time, like an hour and some change ,of not playing, so I think that definitely had something to do with it. It was still a great game. They still did an amazing job,” said Disla, who in a previous interview, was very confident in Queens winning the tournament.
The semifinal game was between Staten Island and Brooklyn. Event Coordinator Lauren Seales was the coach for Brooklyn with three players from the team, Anthony Williams Jr., Kevin Tabb and Matthew Kone-Bradshaw. The game was cut short in order to minimize the embarrassment because the score was 22-2, with Brooklyn going to the finals against the Bronx.
The final game between the Bronx and Brooklyn had all students and staff watching intensely. The score was close for the entire game, as each team never allowed the other to be ahead for longer than a few seconds.
Ultimately, Brooklyn won with a score of 42-31, continuing its undefeated winning streak.