After a week’s reverie, the Manomanista returns this weekend. We are now at the semi final stage and there is nowhere to hide for the final four, for whom victory is now imperative. On paper, the games look fairly clear cut. In the first, Asier Olaizola plays Xala, and while Olaizola has battled royally to reach the last four, Xala is the form player of the year and has reached this stage with imperious ease. An upset is very much on if Olaizola can come out all guns blazing, but it is hard to bet against Xala breezing into the final.
In the second semi final, defending champion Juan Martinez de Irujo takes on Patxi Ruiz. Irujo is hard to stop under any circumstances, but like Xala, he has arrived in the last four undefeated and full of confidence. Patxi Ruiz, often an enigma, cannot be entirely written off, but he will have to play the game of his life. He was perhaps a little lucky to come through the group stages, benefitting as he did from Aimar Olaizola’s untimely injury, but he looked in fine fettle against Retegi Bi, whom he out powered impressively. Irujo, though, is an entirely different prospect.
As an aside, last week the second tier Manomanista competition saw its semi final stage and we now know that the final will be played between defending champion Mikel Beroiz (who beat Urrutikoetxea 22-20) and Aritz Lasa (who beat Leiza 22-16). The final will take place on Saturday 12th June at Beotibar in Tolosa.
Friday 4th June, Sodupe
22:25 (CEST) CABRERIZO II – LARRINAGA v IBAI PEREZ – GALARZA VI
23:30 (CEST) TITIN III – LASKURAIN v ARITZ LASA – BARRIOLA
Saturday 5th June, Pamplona
17:35 (CEST) BERASALUZE VIII – IBAI ZABALA v SARALEGI – BEGINO
Followed by OLAIZOLA I v XALA Manomanista Semi Final
Sunday 6th June, Eibar
16:55 (CEST) OLAZABAL – ZUBIETA v IDOATE – PASCUAL
Followed by MARTINEZ DE IRUJO – PATXI RUIZ Manomanista Semi Final
All these matches can be viewed online at https://www.eitb.eus/television/etb-sat
Image from Gara (Juanan RUIZ/ARGAZKI PRESS)