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Any ball, any wall: Timbo takes it all...: ...AGAIN: Gonzalez returns from hand injury for another wallball/I-wall sweep.

After surprising the one-wall world in 2017 by winning the small-ball and wallball titles in the same year, Timothy "Timbo" Gonzalez was unable to compete last year.

I had just messed up my hand in the wallball and needed surgery," Gonzalez said after his impressive victory over defending and six-time champ Tyree Bastidas the first weekend of August in the USHA National One-Wall Championships at Coney Island. "I couldn't play last year."

While many thought the world was right again when Bastidas won his sixth title last summer at 27, Gonzalez was looking ahead to this year when he'd be 27--and looking to do what had been unthinkable.

But for the second time in three years, Gonzalez swept the one-wall open singles titles, winning the wallball nationals and the one-wall nationals in the same summer.

He thus became the only player to accomplish two small-ball/wallball slams in the same year. John "Rookie" Wright has won both titles but not in the same year.

Finalists Gonzalez and Bastidas are in their handball primes. Gonzalez has played a lot of handball--but almost all of it wallball. Bastidas was a juniors phenom and came into this year's event even more chiseled than in previous years, crediting his new work as a plumber as well as doing some moving on the weekends.

As the tournament progressed, so did Gonzalez's play. A close first game and then a lopsided second-game win over Cesar Sala in the quarterfinals gave some insight.

But Gonzalez's control of Jurell Bastidas in the semis after losing a close first game was most impressive. Tyree barely got past his brother last year, but Gonzalez won these deciding semifinal games 21-7, 11-1.

That victory should have made Gonzalez the favorite to win the championship, but small-ball purists were thinking that, with Bastidas' pedigree, he would find a way.

He almost did--but not quite.

After taking all the finesse Bastidas could throw at him through the middle of the first game, Gonzalez took charge and won 21-11. The match appeared over when Gonzalez pulled out to a 20-17 edge in the second game, but Bastidas forced a tiebreaker with four unanswered points.

It's easy to let up after seeing a championship potentially slip away like that, but Gonzalez wasn't going to allow this title to get away. His quick reactions and long reach made him impossible to pass, and he worked Bastidas from side to side while he stood in the center of the court.

When Bastidas regained the serve trailing 10-4, fans wondered if he could pull off another miracle.

But Gonzalez put a stop to the thought and closed out the match for his second title in three years--and a little bit of history.

First round: Victor LoPierre (Forest Hills, N.Y.) d. Mohammad Shakoor (New York) 5, 5; Joe Kaplan (Brooklyn, N.Y.) d. Juned Khan (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 5, 7; Alvaro Rebaza (Whitestone, N.Y.) d. Robert Goffner (Forest Hills, N.Y.) S, 11; Cesar Sala (Bronx, N.Y.) d. Eric Lee (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 11, 19; Nick Roman (Secaucus, N.J.) d. Adam Gittlitz (Kew Gardens, N.Y.) 0, 8.

Quarters: Tyree Bastidas (Brooklyn, N.Y.) d. LoPierre 15, 17; Rebaza d. Kaplan (19), 8, 3; Timothy Gonzalez (Brooklyn, N.Y.) d. Sala 20, 5; Jurell Bastidas (Brooklyn, N.Y.) d. Roman 14, 10.

Semis: T. Bastidas d. Rebaza 8, 11; Gonzalez d. J. Bastidas (19), 7, 1.

Final: Gonzalez d. T. Bastidas 11, (20), 4.
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Title Annotation:USHA NATIONAL ONE-WALL
Publication:Handball
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Nov 1, 2019
Words:579
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