Sunday 1st March
Atano III, San Sebastian
BENGOETXEA VI – BELOKI beat BERASALUZE VIII – BEGINO 22-11
In what could be termed the battle of the Bs, Asegarce played Asegarce for the honours in San Sebastian on Sunday night. Pablo Berasaluze and Aritz Begino finished the quarter final stages with a flurry, taking a nailbiting win over Titin III and Pascual to qualify in pole position but their opponents last night were in no mood for compromise. Oinatz Bengoetxea, the 24 year old manomanista champion from Leitza, is known as one of the best defensive forwards in the game; many opponents have discovered to their cost his incredible tenacity and ability to produce attack out of dead ends. His current partner in crime is Ruben Beloki, ten years his senior, and the owner of six championship txapelas, the most recent coming in the pairs, six years ago. If this display was anything to go by, Beloki is back and hungry for more, for it was his dominance and mind-blowing accuracy which won the day in emphatic style.
In the early points, the two sides seemed even enough but at 5-4 to the eventual losers, the floodgates opened and there was no way back for Pablito and Begino. Bengoextea was entirely prepared to let Beloki dictate the game and his defensive partner payed him back by the bucket load. In a stunning display, the veteran made up for his undoubtedly diminished speed with guile, tactical nouse and unrelenting accuracy. In the process of this showcase of his talents, he made not one single error. Compare his efforts to those of Begino and the reason for the discrepency in the scoreline becomes apparent. Begino is possessed of on of the strongest right arms in the game but strength is nothing without skill and this was not to be his night. He chalked up eight errors in the course of the evening and Beloki, metaphorically speaking of course, ate him for breakfast. Berasaluze tried his best to lift the spirits of his flagging partner but to no avail.
Berasaluze for his part struck eight winners but could do nothing to stop the rot. Bengoetxea hit fewer winners but also made fewer mistakes and through his incredible energy and indefatigable spirit was able to prevent his counterpart from cutting loose. After 59 minutes and 55 seconds, Oinatz and Ruben raised their arms in both triumph and the quiet satisfaction of a job well done. They now lead the semi final standings on points difference ahead of Irujo and Goni. Berasaluze and Begino find themselves bottom, one place below defending champions Olaizola II and Mendizabal II.
Scoring sequence: 3-0, 3-4, 4-4, 4-5, 15-5, 15-9, 17-9, 17-10, 21-10, 21-11 and 22-11