Former teammate holds basketball tournament in honor of Anthony Garcia
Team Dynasty's Quan Gonder attempts to get past Team Arab Rejects defenders team during the Anthony Garcia Foundations' March Madness 3-on-3 tournament at Brawley Union High on Sat-urday. (JOSELITO VILLERO PHOTO / March 17, 2013)
“We had practice every day at 6 in the morning, we would always be there early,” Gonder remembered. “Sometimes we would go to the cafeteria for breakfast then back to the locker room to change; we would joke around and just have ‘guy talk.’”
Both played basketball together for two years at Brawley before Garcia was diagnosed with cancer and subsequently died Easter Sunday 2011.
Garcia’s parents formed the Anthony Garcia Foundation to not only keep their son’s memory alive, but raise funds to distribute as scholarships for high school seniors in the Imperial Valley, cancer patients in the Valley and other youth sports organizations as well.
The foundation has organized everything from softball, soccer and even horseshoe tournaments since.
On Saturday, Gonder coordinated another event in honor of Garcia, but not just any other tournament.
“I had seen before that the Anthony Garcia was doing 5Ks and horseshoe tournaments and I thought to myself, he didn’t really play horseshoe or run marathons,” Gonder said jokingly. “He played basketball … what better to honor him than to have a tournament in the sport he played.”
Gonder, with the help from the AGF, held the March Madness 3-on-3 inaugural basketball tournament Saturday in Brawley.
The tournament had eight teams, a little fewer than what organizers were hoping, but still deemed a success.
“You take it as a success and you work to develop it for the future,” Gonder said. “I think everybody came out for the cause.”
Team Those Guys from Brawley took home the tournament title while Team GSB of Brawley finished runner-up.
“It went very well, ran very smooth,” said Anthony’s father and AGF president Rusty Garcia. “Chris did a good job in controlling the players as far as rules and so on.”
It ran so well that players were requesting another be held in the summer.
“Definitely,” said Gonder. “I’ll have to get together with Rusty and his wife and go over it and see if we can set up for another tournament.”
Gonder said they will try to have another before the school year starts, toward the end of the summer.
Next year’s tournament is already being anticipated as well.
“They were very excited and, of course, they want to do it again next March,” Garcia said. “It’s only going to grow.”