“Sports do not build character. They reveal it”

– John Wooden (12 time NCAA Champion Head Coach)

This week Wall Ball is proud to bring you event coverage from the 1st Annual Buddha Memorial Open Doubles Event which took place at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. The event was created and sponsored by Buddha’s former partner and friend, Carlos Centeno. This 32-team competition brought out the best of the new generation and the legends of the “old school” generation leaving the crowd with a satisfying dose of athleticism, sportsmanship and community. Congratulations to Mr. Centeno on executing a flawless event and…

Congratulations to the Champions and our new Players of the Week –

Justin “Silver Surfer” Richie & “Lefty” Paul Yagual!

Paulie interviewed By J. Ray:

How did you and Justin come to be partners?

Well Justin and I have known each other since the junior years. A bit of a rivalry but I think it is fair to say we’ve succeeded in our own divisions. I went on a roll in doubles and he prevailed in singles.

As for our partnering up, this has been a long situation in the making. Unfortunately it’s been something that’s overdue. I had my partners that I committed with over my career and he focused on singles and paired up with the players he did but we’ve always had great chemistry together. He compliments my game and pace and I think I do the same and add a few strategy tips and the more mental part of the game being that my expertise is doubles.

Who was your strongest opponent?

Fish and Jonathan Pazmino scored the most of everyone but I think all our competitors made us play hard and step our game to another level. But toughest I’d have to say in my eyes was Timbo and Lil Eddie in the finals; although the score might not show it. Being their caliber of players I felt like I needed to go for the gusto and push my body and focus to the max. So that’s what made them the toughest game. Knowing that at any point the can get on a run and score at will. (Glad they didn’t)

Did you personally know Buddha and how does it feel to win this event in his name?

I personally grew up watching Buddha and Carlos play. They definitely were a force to reckon with. I’ve learned many tactics in position, mind games, and poise from not only Buddha but what he did as a partner with Carlos.

I’m extremely happy and honored that I won today. Having the chance to commemorate a true legend in handball with the first win of what I’m assuming will be an annual tournament makes me remember why I fell in love with the sport!

I said earlier today “it was meant to be”, and as I gain my passion to be on the court and participate in open events I can finish the day knowing that I gave it my all and left a champ!

In his own words:

I’ve wanted to do this event for a few years now. It’s just been very difficult for me because he was my childhood friend as well as my partner so emotionally I haven’t been ready until now. Buddha was the kind of guy that gave everything into what he did. He was very emotional and self-deprecating as well as loud and boisterous but very generous and kind. He was a father figure to his little cousin who he treated as his daughter. He was there for any that needed him and the ones close to him were a better person for having known him.

In our time there really wasn’t a separation of talent. There weren’t any B’s or C’s. Everyone jumped into the deep end of the water. The younger kids respected the elder statesmen. You rarely saw anyone disrespecting Buddy, Marquez or even Durso. As a young player just starting out, we were also into the history of the ones that came before us. We inquired about the previous generation. Studied the older players, mimicked them, respected them, but engaged them. I believe we played a little bit more cerebral. Most players now have a caveman mentality. Bash the ball till you can’t. It’s very entertaining but a little animalistic.

If possible, I would host this event again. I had a great time. I loved the genuine respect for the most part on the courts. There was not one disrespectful argument among players. It was an unbelievable display of athleticism and great sportsmanship throughout. I applaud all who participated. The refs and the ones that helped with the board made it an easy day. Thanks everyone!

Carlos Centeno



(from left) Timbo Gonzalez, Justin Richie, Carlos Centeno, Paul Yagul & Eddie Santiago