After over two months of competition, the Second Tier Manomanista is down to the last two, and the final takes place at Beotibar on Saturday. Of the finalists, defending champion Mikel Beroiz has had the less protracted run to the final, although he has been far from invincible on the way. As last year’s winner, he was granted a bye in the first stage and entered at the point of the quarter final league. He lost his first match heavily, 13-22 to Retegi Bi, who was to leave the tournament to replace Gonzalez in the Manomanista shortly. He then won a tough fight against Oier Mendizabal by 22 points to 18, before losing again in his last group match, to Inigo Leiza, 17-22. He was therefore very lucky to make it through the semis; if Retegi Bi, who won both his games had remained, he would have been out. However, given his chance, he stepped up to the plate, triumphing in a tense match against Mikel Urrutikoetxea, 22-20, to reach the final.
Aritz Lasa had to work much harder to arrive at the final. He was put, my Aspe, through a pre-qualifying round before he could even take his place in the main competition, and came through this my the proverbial skin of his teeth, 22-21 against Merino. In the first stage proper, he found his form and came through easily against Cabrerizo, 22-13. He then won two of his three matches in the quarter final league, against Asier Berasaluze 22-12, and the second narrowly over exciting debutant Lemuno, 22-21. Not for the first time, Lasa sailed close to the wind here. He lost his third game 18-22 to Urrutikoetxea, who topped the group, but this was of no matter. His semi final was against Leiza, who he despatched without too much fuss, by 22 points to 16.
It is no easy task to pick the winner here. Beroiz, being the defending champion and a confirmed top young talent, is the natural favourite, but he has looked far from totally secure in the past few weeks. Aritz Lasa meanwhile has more experience and appears to be building nicely. He is a consistent performer who would be a richly deserving winner. Tune in on Saturday to see the drama played out.
Friday 11th June, Logrono
22:25 (CEST) BERASALUZE IX – CECILIO v CABRERIZO II – MERINO
23:30 (CEST) TITIN III – PASCUAL v GONZALEZ – LASKURAIN
Saturday 12th June, Tolosa
17:25 (CEST) ARRETXE II – MENDIZABAL II v IDOATE – BARRIOLA
Followed by BEROIZ v ARITZ LASA Second Tier Manomanista Final
These matches can be seen at https://www.eitb.eus/television/etb-sat
Image from: Noticias de Gipuzkoa, by Jose Sampedro