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Bocce ball Kings hail from Queens

Queens residents proved to be the kings of bocce ball. At the 13th annual citywide tournament at Juniper Valley Park, borough residents on the Devils and Adriatica teams took home first- and second-place respectfully.
“All of my life, I compete. I just want to win. It’s in my DNA,” said Devils team Captain Angelo Visone. “My house is full of trophies, and I’m still not satisfied.”
Visone, currently of Richmond Hill and originally of Naples, predicted that his four-person team - also including Middle Village residents Zvonko Maricic, Angelo Ciavarella, and Giuseppe Gabrielle - would take home the trophy hours before the final match on Sunday, September 30.
“So far, we are unbeatable. We won the first two games today,” he said, while on a lunchtime break. “And we won all of our games yesterday.”
On Saturday, September 29, the group had participated in Queens-only tournament and came out on top, and throughout the five boroughs, 85 teams played in this year’s tournament, organized by the Columbus Citizen’s Foundation and city’s Parks Department.
“Bocce is sweeping the country and Parks is proud to bring this international sport to the city,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.
To play bocce, participants try to bowl their balls closest to a smaller ball - a pallino or boccino. However, players can also knock an opponent’s ball out of the way, which often results in a string of colorful Italian vernacular. The first team to 12 wins.
The Adriatica team - comprised of Whitestone residents Zvonko Zunic, Mario Pavicich, Angelo Miletic, and Gretto Dimb - also made it to the Sunday finals and placed second overall.
“They have been playing a lifetime,” said Adriatica team coach Stan Rich. “I’ve been playing only five years.”
Rich of Juniper Park area remembered that he began playing in 2002 after retiring.
“I used to drive by here all the time, and I used to watch all of these idiots playing in all of the bad weather,” he joked.
He said his coaching strategy is simple. “Win every game possible.”
However, Adriatica fell to the Devils 12-8.
For their play, Chef Lidia Bastianich from “Lidia’s Italy” presented The Devils team with a $1,000 check and the chance to ride on the Parks float in the city’s annual Columbus Day Parade. Team Adriatica received $300 in prize money. The third-place team from Manhattan - the American Bocce Club - received $200.

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