Our Last few Performances Sun 07/10, Thu 07/14, Sat 07/16, Sun 07/17, Tue 07/19, Thu 07/21.
Next Performance TBA (Usually Tue, Thu, Sun).
Kyle Kubala, now 21, can finally say goodbye to the name
“Baby Castanos” St. Petersburg: July 11, 2016
OK, I’m probably the only one nowadays that calls him that, but as Kyle turns 21 today, it is time to finally time get rid of the nickname “Baby Castanos”!
Born and raised in the shadow of America’s first public jai-alai court that his father (Paul aka “Castanos”) created, jai-alai will always be in his blood. Even though he has a few years of college behind him and a remarkable golfing career already at his age, Kyle still enjoys playing jai-alai when he gets a chance. Despite not playing much because of school and golf, Kyle is one of our better players and he keeps getting better every year. He started playing around the age of 10, a few years before the court was converted into a full blown amateur court in 2007-2008. By the age of 12 he was playing jai-alai alongside with Benny B. in a match against his father and JLaca in Miami.
As a tribute, a special Saturday night performance was held with all games going to 21 points, instead of the normal 15. Kyle played in 5 games to 21 points, winning with Scott King in one of the games. Scott snagged 4 wins on the card, which featured 13 players in 90 degree heat which included a tent set up right on the court for shade.
After the performance, Kyle and the players were treated to a tasty birthday cake to celebrate. And no, just because he is 21 now, Kyle doesn’t care to drink.
A couple of players suggested that next year we should have a performance with games to 62 points. JLaca and was born exactly 40 years before Kyle was. Sorry, but 21 points with 6 post positions was enough!
Jeff "Laca" Conway
ROCCO MAKES FT. PIERCE DEBUT
Ft. Pierce, FL: NJAA star Rocco made his Ft. Pierce debut as the fronton opened for its 43rd season June 1. There was a matinee at 12 noon and an evening performance at 6pm with 8 games a card - with all played in singles matches. After a slow start in the matinee (he had a “show” in the 6 games he played), Rocco rebounded with 3 wins in the nightcap and collected some pretty decent bonus money with the wins. The season will last only for the month of June.
Ft. Pierce Entries and Results
The top player on the 10-man roster is clearly Hormaetxea, the son of former Tampa great “Francisco”. Check out the Ft. Pierce website for the schedule, as they are closed now on Thursday’s only.
OUR DEEPEST PRAYERS FOR MATT THE MUMMY
(Him on left of 3 people standing)(Click any picture to enlarge)
Our deepest prayers are out for Matt the Mummy, who has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
Matt has been one of our top players since the mid-80s until injuries had slowed him down over the past few years. Tall and lanky, “The Mummy” has been our own jai-alai version of “Randy Johnson”. Nobody threw harder than him on the amateur courts. Given the name Matt “The Mummy” 30 years ago on the Seminole Middle School court because he showed up one day practically bandaged up like the real Mummy, Matt’s love of jai-alai would never stop him from playing until the past couple years where the knee injuries had taken the toll. He was actually going to get his knees replaced so he could make a comeback in jai-alai when doctors discovered the cancer.
There will be a fundraiser benefit at the Seaside Inn in Port Richey, Saturday May 28th from 4pm to 1am with a DJ and two bands. The NJAA is planning a fundraiser tournament for Matt and will announce details as soon as possible. Matt needs your support. Over the past 30 years, he has overcome multiple injuries and accidents, but now faces his toughest battle. Let’s all pray for Matt.
International Amateur Jai-alai Tournament in San Francisco
September 8-10th, 2016
San Francisco: There is a big international amateur jai-alai tournament going to take place in San Francisco this coming September 8-10. The tournament is being put together by former pro player Loren Harris. By now, you are wondering San Francisco has a jai-alai court? It’s actually going to be held at a large Basque Cultural Center located in south San Francisco, where inside the large building is a 36 meter long court mainly used for another sport similar to racquetball. The place holds between 250-300 people who can view the action in a similar area like jai-alai. However, that week it will be used as an amateur jai-alai court facility, where amateurs and ex-pros from around the world are expected to complete. There is a limit of 24 players allowed to participate, but that number could be altered if necessary.
When is the event?
Thursday through Saturday, September 8-10th.
Where is it at?
The Basque Cultural Center, 599 Railroad Avenue, San Francisco, California 94080.
What are the hours?
The tournament hours are scheduled between 6pm-9pm on Thursday and Friday, and the finals are on Saturday in late-morning that will run into the mid-afternoon. There will be some kind of a kids demonstration Saturday morning.
What the type of tournament will be played?
These details are still being worked out, however it appears everybody will be playing with everybody else in a quinella-type format similar to the FL-CT event.
Can we practice before the tournament?
Yes, you can practice in the evening on the day before the event – Wednesday, September 7th. You can also practice in the late afternoons on Thursday and Friday. However exact hours and details are still being worked out. As with any new court and ball, you will need to practice to be as sharp as possible in the tournament.
How big is the court?
The court is 36 meters long and 10 meters wide. For us Americans, that translates into 118’ x 32’. The court has been approved by the FIPV as a regulated amateur tournament court. Click Here for Court Specs (In Spanish)
What is the court like?
It has only been used as a jai-alai court a few times. The only drawback is that there is a viewing area on the back wall about half way up that has a protected window for viewing. Balls will have to land under this area. However, without this change, “homeruns” could take place once in a while. The court should still be fast and fun to play on. It is air conditioned, and up to 300 spectators may view the action. With this being ta Basque Cultural Center, expect some interest as jai-alai started in the Basque region over 400 years ago.
What type of ball will be used?
The ball will be the white plastic ball, like the one currently used in N. Miami. Laca has a few remaining balls left (not for sale anymore) but has sold hundreds of the ball around the world to other amateur courts over the past 8 years. It is fast and has the “sound” of jai-alai. The ball does not work on the Puryear Park court because we play on surface the same as a tennis court.
How much will it cost me?
To play in the event, the cost will be around $50-$75 to cover the ball costs, trophies and other incidentals. Of course, getting to San Francisco is on you. Right now, round trip airfare is $362, which is not too bad. However, San Francisco is not cheap. Since Laca got stiffed out of hundreds of dollars on the Connecticut venture by someone who decided not play at the last minute, he will no longer play “travel agency” with anybody ever again. He will also not be involved in people signing up for this event either. However, please notify the NJAA if you are playing, so we can release the news to others.
Where do I stay?
Loren is working on getting discounts from area hotels. Expect rooms to be at least $125 a night. The Basque Cultural Center is about 15 minutes from the airport and is on the south side of San Francisco. Unlike Tampa Bay, there is public transportation and the trollies are the most fun.
I don’t’ think I can afford this. What can I do?
Yes, this trip will cost you about $1,500 with all the expenses. Perhaps a little less, perhaps a little more depending on your hotel and meal budget. But, I can tell you, San Francisco is one of the greatest cities in the world. You will have plenty of time to explore the city in addition to playing some great jai-alai. This will be a trip you will never forget. My advice is to start planning your vacation and budgeting now!
How do I register?
Contact Loren Harris at:
Also contact the NJAA that you are registered for press release purposes.
Who is playing in the event?
Since most of you are learning of this event for the first time, only Scott King knows about it and he is playing. There will be players from France, Mexico, Spain and mainly ex-pros in the USA. Expect some ex-Dania pros, and most likely Matt, Carlo and a couple others from Connecticut. Luis of N. Miami and his players are in the loop, too. “Denver” is expected to make the trip also.
FUNERAL FOR GARY WENCE
SAT 04/23/16 3PM - 5750 49th St. N.
Visitation from 1pm-3pm for any Jaialai members
and/or friends of family.
Memorial Park Funeral Home Obituary
Video Memorial of Gary by Memorial Park Funeral Home
04/04/16 Our condolences to Gary Wence family
The NJAA is offering our condolences to Gary Wence family. Gary was found dead this morning
by his son. Wence was 57 years old and cause of death to be determined. Gary was a huge jai-alai fan and played
amateur at Tampa jai-alai for many years, and played at Puryear park on occasion.
His last appearance was July 23, 2013. He attended the Merry Festival Party at Laca’s
just two weeks ago as seen in 3 photos on the website at the party. He appeared to be
fine and looked the best he had been in years.
REUNITES JAI-ALAI LEGENDS - BRINGING BACK MEMORIES & PERHAPS A “CLOSURE” TAMPA JAI-ALAI NEVER HAD
March 19, 2016: Seminole, FL: It was truly an emotional event you had to be there to believe. One ex-player posted on Tiger’s site calling it a “Miracle” and “a highlight in my life that I won’t forget”. Over two dozen former jai-players, management and personnel attended a reunion party at the Laca Museum in Seminole, Florida for a true “Merry Festival” event. Some of the greatest jai-alai players in Tampa Jai-alai history all got together – some for the first time in 25-30 years.
An amazing 7-course Spanish meal, complete with paella and a jai-alai cesta as the center piece, was prepared by Chef Thomas Fillmore and our wives. Homemade sangria and an open bar with bartender Ronnie Martin from Ruth Eckerd Hall handled the liquid stuff. Valet attendants handled the parking for the crowd of about 80 for the 8-hour blast that went past 1am with live betting from Dania jai-alai at the conclusion.
The party was slapped together in just a 3-week period after J Laca and Thomas ran into Tom Contreras and Eusebio at the “grand opening” of Dania jai-alai February 26th . The ever popular Eusebio (who still plays jai-alai with Bolivar on a regular basis) was making a rare USA visit from Spain and plans for a reunion quickly materialized. With a jai-alai museum on site, it was an easy decision on where to host the party.
From triple crown winners to the announcer, it felt like you were at Tampa Jai-alai all over again. And as Randy posted, it was “one of the most exciting, emotional and successful reunion parties I have ever witnessed”.
The highlight of the event was the former announcements from famed ringside and jai-alai announcer Mark Beiro who introduced - over the in-house DJ sound system - each player, one by one, onto a staged walkway to much applause, happy cheers and fanfare. Each player received a highlighted career introduction before entering the packed main lobby of the museum.
Also in attendance was Harry Kayian, the principle who is ironically trying to bring back Tampa Jai-alai. The plans for a massive 30-acre, $600 million complex in the USF area are ongoing. The complex would feature jai-alai, a jai-alai Cigar City Brew Pub, nightclubs, various restaurants including a Morton’s Steak House and much more as part of a huge entertainment complex. The main problem now is acquiring the Tampa pari-mutual license, now dormant and owned by our friends in Miami.
The event then moved to the movie theatre room where live betting on an 80” TV with Dania Jai-alai took place for the 8 game card. Everybody received a program custom made for the event. Nobody had much luck on the night at betting on the Dania performance, unfortunately! The few winners were paid on the spot with Ricky Hernandez handling the ticket punching once again.
As our star amateur player Anthony said at the close of the event, this might have been the closing Tampa Jai-alai never had.
The following were in attendance….
Tom Contreras, Mark Beiro, Marty Fleishman, Aramayo, Aitor, Coya, Daniel, King, Goitia, Mondra, Sorriano, Rufino, Eusebio, Durango, Kosca, Art, Lively, Achotugio, Arambarra, Renedo, Ricky, Denver, Paul B,
Williams, Amias, Galla, and Randy
The following were confirmed to come but were not in attendance…..
David II, Corky, Eloridiata, Pablo, Arri, Guerena, Cruz
The following were listed as a “maybe” but were not in attendance…..
Dennis, Brock, Javy, Jimbo, Radstock, Zulika, Chris, Lou
One player was confirmed to come, but had to cancel….
Laca (the real one, not me!)
Non jai-alai related personnel who had to cancel….
Eddie Cardieri (former USF head coach), Wade Boggs (Hall of Famer who has attended other parties)
The following amateur players were in attendance….
Anthony, Rule, Julio, Paul H, Gary, Thomas, Durango (from the 1970s)
HAPPY NEW YEAR - 2016 BEGINS
CONNECTICUT ROMPS FLORIDA IN ROUND 2
Berlin, CT: There’s nothing like good old home, sweet home. It was Déjà vu in Hartford. Team Connecticut got total revenge on Team Florida, by taking the overwhelming majority of the games played at Matt’s Court this past Saturday afternoon. The action-packed amateur jai-alai palace was rocking with major league-like jai-alai action for 6 hours Saturday afternoon. The huge amateur court, clearly the best one in the USA (if not world), all played out as advertised to the seven NJAA making the 1,250 mile trip to the Harford area for some jai-alai action against the best.
The NJAA odds makers nailed this one correctly, giving 3 to 1 odds that Florida would win in St. Pete, and 2 to 1 odds that Connecticut would win in Hartford. A couple of prime challenge games ended on the final point possible with Matt’s boys winning both of them. The NJAA players ran into a pretty solid roster of great players in Connecticut, which included their roster players mixed in with other players who did not make the trip to Florida. Players like Geno (who scratched late from coming to Tampa Bay), John B, Mason, Joe P, Marcos, Barry, George Z, Tony all coming “in the money” Saturday afternoon. Other star players on their roster included Mace, Yezik, Leo, Fred, Johnny No No, and Will. The guys that came to Florida - including Carlo, Matt, Monty, Jacques all played much better on their home court.
The long performance was actually scheduled to have 20 games, but was cut back to 15 with original games 8, 9, 17, 19 and 20 getting canceled. After the game, many players headed to Mohegan Sun, one of the two largest casinos in the world – both located within an hour of Matt’s court.
The event was such a huge success that everybody was already talking about doing this again soon.
Saturday Championship Performance 12:20pm
Game 1 – 11 points
1 Castanos/George Z
Game 2 – 11 points
2B Barry/George Z
Game 3 - 11 points
Game 4 11 points
Game 5 11 points
4 Tony/George Z
Game 6 11 points
Game 7 11 points
1 Barry/George Z
Game 8 7 points
1 Mace/Mason/Rocco/Scott K
2 Julio/John B
6 Mason/Joe P
Game 9 7 points
2 Julio /Matt
3 Gino/Scott K
5 Matt/Joe P
6 Marcos/John B
Game 10 15 points
1B Rocco/Scott K
2B Geno/Joe P
Game 11 11 points
Perfecta 1-2. CT wins 11-10.
Game 12 11 points
1 Marcos /John B
2 Rocco/Scott K
Perfecta 1-2. CT wins 11-10.
Game 13 11 points
1 Geno/Joe P
2 Julio /Rocco
Perfecta 1-2 CT wins 11-5.
Game 14 11 points
2 Scott K/Anthony
Perfecta 1-2 CT wins 11-2.
Game 15 – 15 points
1 Julio/Scott K
3 Geno/John B
Jai-alai Heaven Trip
The trip also included an exciting trip to Jai-alai Heaven. Yes, there is another court in the Hartford Area! Jai-alai Heaven has been around for almost 30 years now. The court is run by a fine group of gentlemen. It was built on February 11, 1986 and was originally in the basement of a multi-level gymnasium. At first, it was a basketball court for priests. There were six jai-alai junkies that came up with an idea of turning it into a private jai-alai court. A lot of steel was moved and the walls and floor were painted. A “players” cage was added and a front cushion. Some of the founding members include Al Almada, Peter Pizzoferrato “Dr. Evos”, Bob, and Mike. Members playing included Paul, Sergio “Mr. Sako” and Tommy. The play was awesome with Rocco putting on quite a show with his hustle. After the 2 ½ performance, the group, headed by Club President Bob Discipio treated the gang to some excellent pizza (sorry we can’t get good pizza like this in Florida!) and sodas.
Thursday night practice
The Florida 7 then played another 2 hours at Matt’s court to get adjusted to the much larger court.
Friday night Special Spectacular 9 Performance
On Friday night, the players then played a long 5 hour plus performance with several of Connecticut’s players matching up with the Florida 7.
Here are the trifecta winners:
Game 1 Castanos. Laca. Benny. 3-5-1
Game 2 Carlo/Thomas. Benny Jacques. Frank II Warren. 3-2-1
Game 3 Frank II/Jacques. Dale/Taylor. JK/Isais. 6-1-4
Game 4 Marcos/Thomas. Carlo/Taylor. Benny/Isais. 2-3-1
Game 5 Leo/Jacques. Johnny No No/Laca. Benny/Isais. 4-2-1
Game 6 Will. Carlo. Thomas. 7-4-1
Game 7 Carlo/Yezik. Castanos/Joe P. Marcos/Scott K 6-4-2
Game 8 Geno/Anthony. Mason/Scott K. Rocco/Fred 1-4-6
Game 9 Matt/Monty. Geno/John B. Julio/Anthony. 8-6-5 Note: I wonder what this would have paid in real jai-alai?
Game 10 15 single points CT 15 FL 4
Game 11 15 single points Team 2 15 Team 1. Game featured a mixture of 16 top players. Winner included Rocco, Joe P., Mace, Leo, Mason, Monty, Matt, Anthony.
Game 12 Geno. Mace. Matt. 3-1-7
Game 13 Joe P., Scott K., Julio. 6-2-1
Game 14 Geno/Joe P. Mason/Will. Mace/Anthony. 2-4-3
World’s oldest Jai-alai player
Special mention needs to go to Al Amada! This guy will turn 88 next month and plays jai-alai on a regular basis at Jai-alai Heaven as the co-founder of the court. He was also at the performance Saturday and donated an awesome collection of jai-alai balls getting made that will go on display at the Laca Museum next week. Thanks Al!!!
Anthony The Great
If Anthony calls Thomas, it shows up on his phone at Anthony “The Great”. This might be truly certified when one of Connecticut’s top players (we will keep it personal) told Anthony after the performance he was “the best backcourter on both courts”. Quite a statement from a guy that was truly amazing out there. It was like watching pro jai-alai for sure. Maybe Anthony can be claimed the best amateur in the United States now? But one thing is for sure, his company needs to speed it up and build the Laca court, so we can learn the bigger court and go up there next year and get a win!
ROUND 1 GOES TO TEAM FLORIDA
OFF TO CONNECTICUT FOR ROUND 2 THIS WEEKEND
St. Petersburg, FL: There’s nothing like “Home, sweet home”. And when it comes to quirky Puryear Park, that’s certainly the case. Team Florida took both championship games on a warm, sun-splashed Saturday afternoon in St. Petersburg in front of a crowd of 60.
The event opened with 9 exhibition games, with several players teaming up from both Connecticut and Florida. All of those 9 games were won by a team from Florida. The Championship Roster Challenge, which featured a Jai-alai Championship Cup to the winning state was played in Game 10. The game, to 21 straight points had a unique format never tried before on the court. The NJAA was playing out of Post 1, while CAJA played out of Post 2. There were 4 teams in Post 1 and 3 teams in Post 2. Scott K and Rocco played Matt and Monty out of Post 2. The winning team would stay on the court, while the losing team would go in a round robin rotation with their teams. The NJAA team followed with Julio and Anthony, Chip and Laca, and then Castanos and Thomas. The CAJA team was followed by Carlo and Frazier and Rule and Jacques. Rule was playing in place of David II who was playing in place of Geno, who was scratched from making the trip to Florida. The NJAA dominated with ScottK and Rocco scoring the most points and then winning by a 21-10 score.
The NJAA vs CAJA Singles Championship was won by Julio with Rule and Scott K coming in a tie for second place. The Singles Backcourt Championship was won by Rocco with Connecticut’s Monty coming in second. Laca and Anthony came in 3rd. The ex-pro game was won by Scott King, with Rocco coming in second and Denver coming in third (tying with fill-in Eric M). The Game 15 Team championship game was easily won by Julio and Anthony with 21 points. Matt and Monty, an impressive team, came in 2nd place along with Rule and “The dinosaur of all players” Jacques. The 70-year old was playing well at the end of the event, catching everything, and proving to be an inspiration to others to never give up.
The event now heads to Connecticut on Thursday. The 8 Florida players will head up. The first stop will be Jai-alai Heaven and then to Matt’s court for some practice Thursday evening. There will be a Spectacular 9 Event Friday night ($10 admission required) and then the big event on Saturday afternoon. Odds are in favor now for Team Connecticut to score and win on their home court, which is certainly more player-friendly than Puryear Park. The event will be broadcasted live on the CAJA website. Click Here for LIVE FEED and replays of tournament.
An 8-year old plays
A typesetting error by the graphic designer of the program had Anthony Sutton listed as 8 years old. He is actually 38 as the graphic guy “Sparky” missed a full copy and paste of the “3”.
Players drinking manager
Team Connecticut even had their own “Players Drinking Manager” in attendance, with the title on the back of his shirt! He also attended the Laca party Saturday night and the Bucs-Falcons thriller on Sunday.
No Zebras .
The NJAA was unable to secure any referees for the event, despite several attempts during the past month to find some volunteers. Not one response. Pitiful and embarrassing. The zebra shirts were left behind and never made the trip..
To those that bought a program, got a delicious cheeseburger or hot dog from our volunteers who kept all the proceeds for help setting up..
For December, it was warm – nearly 10 degrees above normal with a high of 82 degrees. As expected, the sun did play an issue on the rebote’s in the later games.
The Saturday night event featured a party at the Laca Sports and Jai-alai museum with over 40 people attending. Among those in attendance was Randy aka “4 Decade Pro” who made his first appearance. We are glad to announce he is heathy again after a rough bout with stage 3 cancer. Goitia was there, Denver, along with several NJAA players including the first time ever visits for Eric L and Chris “The Kid”. Magic Mike attended for the first time at the new Seminole location. The entire Connecticut entourage was there including the players drinking manager! The Laca museum was expanded by 240 square feet and included a massive expansion of jai-alai. There was live poker and blackjack and then a midnight boat ride to John’s Pass in Madeira Beach for the remaining lucky 15 attendees.
Jai-alai players can eat a lot!
The party had 7 extra-large pizzas and 5 antipasti’s delivered in 3 separate stages and were sucked up within seconds. These guys can eat!!!
The Sunday event included attending the Bucs- Falcons game in the Club at Raymond James Stadium with the NFL’s first draft choice coming through with an amazing last minute drive for the win.
Florida vs. Connecticut Amateur Court Championship Round 1
Saturday December 5th - 12 noon
Click for Full Program
Dania Jai-alai tentatively scheduled to open January 1st
Dania, FL: For those New Year’s Eve partiers, you might want to take it easy that night. Though not officially announced, Dania Jai-alai is hoping to open their doors on Friday night, January 1st. As you can see in this photo taken about a week ago, the walls have been painted a dark blue. Right now workers are installing a brand new black floor with an all new wood for the out of bounds area. You can envision an all new look for jai-alai never seen before. In about a week, we will post new photos of the court progress.
We do want to stress that this planned grand opening has not been announced by Dania officials, and that that date is subject to permits and approvals. If you have ever dealt with “stuff” like that, you are well aware of planning any definite date is about as unpredictable as Florida’s weather - as to gaining full approval to open your doors. Plus, this is on the heels of the holiday season and officials do take vacations around this time. And we are dealing with a massive $65 million dollar project. Even if the date is not met, it should be shortly thereafter. We will post more details on that grand opening date in the middle of December.
So, if the grand opening is the day after New Year’s, you might want to take it easy that night to avoid a nasty hangover!
Tournament shirts to be available shortly
There is a new shirt coming out for the big Connecticut vs Florida championship. It will feature the NJAA logo on the front, and a newly designed logo for the event. That new logo will go on the right sleeve.
The shirts are available in all sizes and are available in either white or blue. The 8 championship players all will be wearing the blue ones during the games in St. Pete and Connecticut.
These are the proofs of what they will look like on the shirts.
The first ever Connecticut – Florida Amateur Court Championship (Matt’s Court vs. St. Pete) is right around the corner!
Round 1 December 5th @ 12 noon St. Petersburg’s Puryear Park
Round 2 December 12th @ 12 noon Matt’s Connecticut Amateur Jai-alai Court, Berlin CT
Castanos aka PCast
Friday night practice, December 4th at approximately 7pm with the Connecticut players
Friday night social event, December 4th – Dinner TBA, Derby Lane?
Saturday night social event, December 5th - Laca museum – casino party
Spec 9 Event, Friday December 11th Matt’s court in Connecticut @ 6:30pm. $10 admission
Saturday night social event, December 12th – Mohegan Sun Casino
Bye Bye from Orlando Jaialai!
No More Orlando Amateur Jaialai or Professional for that matter. Read it and weep.
City denies jai-alai court expansion – most other repairs approved
The City of St. Pete met with NJAA officials Friday to discuss the expansion and renovation plans. One of the main plans involved knocking out the existing front wall and expanding the court by about 18 feet to the next “racquetball” ball court wall. The city flatly rejected those plans, but have approved most of the other plans including court resurfacing. For a review of all plans, see story below this one. There is no timetable set for the renovations, but we will keep you posted.
JAIALAI PARTIDO PONG V1.1
Another Magicmike Program
NOW AVAILABLE (Updated 02/05/12)
Also available on CNet's download.com
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