Pairs Semi-Finals: first blood to Olaizola II and Beroiz

Saturday 31st March, Bilbao


Aimar Olaizola and Mikel Beroiz, the latter now restored to health, continued where they left off with a win in the first semi final of the championship. Bizkaia was only half full for this match, and though such a proportion represents a thousand spectators, this is a figure far below that to which the flagship fronton has become accustomed. Maybe the pelotazales viewed this game as a foregone conclusion, such has been the dominance of the Asegarce duo. This may be to do Pablo Berasaluze and Jon Ander Albisu a disservice, for though they never truly threatened here, they gave excellent value as indeed they always do. Berasaluze can always be counted on for a scrap and his tenacity invariably makes for compelling viewing, and his young partner, though inconsistent at times, is on course for great things.

For sixteen points, Berasaluze and Albisu were right in the game. On their way to an 8-8 tie, they exerted real pressure on the favourites, who were forced onto the defensive on a number of occasions. However, order was restored for Olaizola and Beroiz when Berasaluze was perhaps too hasty in trying to seize an advantage. Two errors in a row from the forward were compounded by three in a row from Albisu, and all of a sudden a formerly tight game was firmly in Aimar Olaizola’s grip. Olaizola left some stops unpulled on Saturday, never going for broke, but was practical and efficient. Of his six winners in open play, only four were with the left hand, but he guarded the wall with immense predatory guile. He seemed able to second guess everything which Berasaluze was about to do and be in the correct position to deal with it. Berasaluze kept his pair in touch at 10-13 but was never again able to bring the deficit below four. Albisu hit beautifully at times, especially with the right, but was too prone to soft mistakes. Beroiz, Albisu’s senior by one year, did not have his most accurate match of the championship but did what was required and had the measure of his opponent.

There was an air of business as usual about this game. Olaizola and Beroiz now have fifteen wins from fifteen games and any thought of a loss of momentum or a semi final slip up seems far off. It is almost impossible to see them not making the final, especially now that they have opened their tally in the last four. There was much which was good about the display of Berasaluze and Albisu and they may still make it themselves. If only Albisu can match in consistency what Berasaluze brings in tireless fight, they may go far.

Scoring sequence: : 0-1, 1-1, 1-4, 3-4, 3-6, 7-6, 7-8, 8-8, 8-13, 10-13, 10-14, 11-14, 11-18, 14-18, 14-19, 15-19, 15-22

Winners/errors: Olaizola 9/1, Berasaluze 8/4, Beroiz 1/4, Albisu 2/8

Match time: 63:30

Balls hit: 508

Albisu and Beroiz: two young defenders were locked in battle

Albisu and Beroiz: two young defenders were locked in battle

Image: mine

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