Sunday 24th January, Logrono
TITIN III – PASCUAL beat BENGOETXEA VI – OTXANDORENA 22-10
This was a comprehensive thrashing by Titin and Pascual, who were superior to their rivals in every department. The fronton in the Riojan capital of Logrono bears a large portrait of Titin, watching down over the players like a patron. When the man himself is on court, his brooding double presence must prey on the minds of his opponents, especially when one factors in the particularly partisan crowd. Perhaps it was the Titin factor which got so badly to Bengoetxea and Otxandorena on Sunday, save for the period at the very beginning, they were never in the game. Naturally, Titin and Pascual focussed much of their attention on Otxandorena, standing in for the experienced but injured Ruben Beloki. In truth, the substitute did not play a wholly bad match despite several costly errors, and at least early on appeared unfazed by the pressure. However, he was up against a metronome of a hitter in Pascual who outplayed him with total aplomb and with no error until the game was all but won. Up front, the story was similarly one sided with home boy Titin full of vim and vigour, and bristling with determination. Bengoetxea, himself usually so full of drive, appeared lacklustre and showed off his enormous talents only sporadically. His timing and precision were both lacking. The result seemed inevitable as the image of Titin looked down approvingly at his own triumph.
Scoring sequence: 0-2, 2-2, 3-2, 3-3, 7-3, 7-4, 8-4, 8-5, 10-5, 10-6, 11-6, 17-6, 17-7, 19-7, 19-10, 22-10.
Monday 25th January, Tolosa
GONZALEZ – LASKURAIN beat OLAIZOLA I – PATXI RUIZ 22-15
The final score at Beotibar fails to tell the full story of a match which could have been a total sporting disaster for the Asegarce pair of Asier Olaizola and Patxi Ruiz. It appeared as if Cuatro y Medio champion Sebastien Gonzalez and his partner in crime Aritz Laskurain were poised to complete the biggest win of the tournament when they stood at 21-6. It is thanks to Olaizola that some face was saved as the trailing pair pulled back nine points, largely thanks to their forward who pulled off some glorious rearguard gantxos. However, it was too little too late for the man from Goizueta as Gonzalez and Laskurain were utterly dominant up until that point. Gonzalez took the first five points to wrest the initiative firmly away from his opponents and they never looked like coming back. The winning pair worked extremely well as a team with Laskurain especially dominant, allowing Patxi no quarter and reducing Olaizola to the role of defender. Gonzalez and Laskurain are warming nicely to the task in this tournament and showed with this their second win that they are a force to be reckoned with. Asier and Patxi will need to improve markedly if they are to be viewed as serious contenders. (source: Gara, via Aspe)
Scoring sequence: 0-5, 1-5, 2-7, 4-10, 5-14, 5-20, 6-21, 15-21, 15-22.
Image from: Wikimedia