22:25 (CEST) TITIN III – PASCUAL v BENGOETXEA VI – PATXI RUIZ
Tonight sees not only the culmination of the world famous San Fermin Festival in Pamplona, but the climax of the prestigious pelota tournament which accompanies it. Labrit, the city’s historic fronton, will be packed with fans and revellers alike tonight, as Augusto Ibanez (Titin III) and Inigo Pascual take on Oinatz Bengoetxea and Patxi Ruiz for the prize, in one of the biggest tournaments outside of the three major championships.
Titin came through Group B playing alongside Abel Barriola, but he is forced to miss the final with sore hands. Pascual should prove an able substitute, though that will be no comfort to Barriola, who appears to be regaining his form after his long injury layoff. They reached the final thanks to a tense 22-21 win over Martinez de Irujo and Beroiz on Monday, in sweltering conditions. They had previously defeated Saralegi and Apraiz 22-9.
Bengoetxea and Patxi Ruiz experienced a tough ride through Group A, and showed great character to remain unbeaten. Both their matches, first against Berasaluze VIII and Begino (22-20) and then against Gonzalez and Zubieta (22-19) were tight.
Logic suggests Titin and Pascual will be favourites. Despite coming in at short notice, Pascual is a regular partner of Titin so there will be no problems of coordination. Titin is clearly in form, and few have beaten Irujo in recent months. However, although Bengoetxea has not been at his best this year, this run suggests a growing confidence, and Titin will have to overcome his never say die attitude and scrapping defence to reach 22. A grand occasion is on the cards.
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Image from: Diario de Navarra