Great Games Mark NABO Pelota Championships in South San Francisco

By Xabier Berrueta

The Basque Cultural Center hosted the 34th Annual NABO Pilota Championships August 28 and 29. It marked the 12th time the Basque Cultural Center has hosted the Txapelketa. It was an action-packed event.

Teams representing four Basque entities (Boise Fronton Association, Chino Basque Club, Kern County Basque Club, Basque Cultural Center) competed in eight categories in a final filled Saturday.

Championship Saturday, which was preceded by local tournaments over the summer as well as semifinal matchups on Friday, started off early with the Class B Paleta Goma final featuring the defending NABO Champions from Kern County Basque Club (KCBC). Echeverria and Fanucci got off to a rough start early in their final and were never able to fully recover as the steady play of the Basque Cultural Center (BCC) team of Urruty/Chiramberro was consistent enough to win 35-25.

The NABO championships featured heated action
Remi Cuburu played in the NABO championships.

Class B Handball finals featured the defending champs Gratien Etchebehere and John Falxa from the BCC, who defeated the duo of Lino Zabala/Edu Sarria from the Boise Fronton Association (BFA) 25-17. The teams battled back in forth until the BCC team pulled away towards the end of the competitive contest.

In one of the more exciting games of the championships, the Women’s Paleta Goma final would see the duo of Evelyne Etcharren and Maitexa Cuburu from the BCC jump out to an early, commanding lead (16-5), only to have the early nerves of the KCBC team of Michelle Saldubehere and Teresa Iparraguirre be replaced by great playing. The women from Bakersfield were making a comeback. But In the end, the BCC team won 35-29. It was a truly entertaining game to watch as an appetizer before lunch.

The afternoon games would feature games with lopsided results in various categories. In Handball Singles, Javier de Luz, native of Zumarraga, Gipuzkoa, would defeat Remi Cuburu 22-5. The BCC representatives of Paleta Goma Veterans (over 50 years young), Javier Andueza and Pierre Irola, defeated the tandem from BFA, Lino Zabala and John Aldape, 35-12. Andueza and Irola were representatives of the US team that competed at the World Championships in Mexico City in 1982.

The same was true in Women’s Paleta Goma Argentina as Bushman-Ocafrain/Etcharren from BCC defeated Ziganda/Iribarren-Gorrindo from BFA by a similar, lopsided score. In Handball Doubles, Class A the team of De Luz/Petrissans would defeat the local team from the BCC Christophe Alfaro and Remi Cuburu 25-17.

Pelota players squared off at the South San Francisco fronton
Pelota players squared off at the South San Francisco fronton

The much-anticipated final in Class A Paleta Goma, between the defending NABO Champions from KCBC, Patrick Etchebarne and John Bidart, and the BCC tandem of Gabriel Dalia and Robert Iriartborde, was close at the beginning. But in the end, the general overall steady and poised play of Dalia/Iriartborde outdid the consistent play of Bidart and Etchebarne. The score was 35-17.

The NABO Pilota Txapelketa in 2010, the 35th edition, will be heading north to the Anduiza Fronton in downtown Boise, Idaho to coincide with the Jaialdi Festival and the NABO Convention to be held San Inazio weekend the last weekend of July.

For more information, please visit the NABO Pilota link. For more information on pelota in the United States, visit the website of the US Pelota: