Daily Archives: 3 April, 2013

Win for Bengoetxea-Beroiz as Berasaluze cannot save Albisu’s blushes

Monday 1st April, Eibar


Pairs Championship Semi Final

Easter Monday saw a good crowd at Astelena for the second of the holiday weekend’s semi-finals. Here, Bengoetxea and Beroiz were the clear favourites and the form book was in no way upset, despite the never-say-die fight of Berasaluze. The favourites won the match essentially because of their balance as a pair. Bengoetxea and Beroiz, from the start of the tournament, have worked as an equal partnership, Beroiz hitting long and powerfully to set up a solid attacking platform for a partner who has seldom failed to use it. In contrast, at least here, their opponents were a one man show. Berasaluze played like a man possessed on Monday, which is more than can be said for Albisu, who leaked error after error, mishit after mishit. Eleven of the seventeen points the losing pair achieved were thanks to winners from Berasaluze but there is a limit to what anyone can do to bail out a partner with this lack of form.

The game started with nervous errors from both pairs, but it was Bengoetxea and Beroiz who settled first and eked out a gradual lead, moving from 2-6 to 4-8 and 5-9. Their opponents closed the gap to 8-9 but all hopes of a close game seemed dashed thereafter when seven straight points took the lead to 8-16. However, to the credit of Berasaluze, he was not prepared to give the cause up so easily and dragged himself and Albisu back to 14-16 and then 17-18. However, Albisu’s woes continued. He hit short all too often, looking at his hands with disgust as if hoping to find some answer in them. Many of the balls which landed inside the frontis were barely inside. Bengoetxea and Beroiz exploited the weakness he showed and were merciless in targeting him as Berasaluze stood resigned. They closed the game out with four straight points, the final one of which came due to an error from Albisu, just as if to make the point even starker.

With the first two semi-finals out of the way, it would be hard to bet against Irujo-Zabaleta and Bengoetxea-Beroiz facing each other in the final. Both did an excellent job this weekend, looked solid and unruffled and crucially, both worked wonderfully as a team. Both of the losing pairs are unbalanced, with the forwards propping up an often ailing defender. However, there are two weeks left before we know the line-up for the finale; one upset and things could yet be very different.

Scoring sequence: 1-0, 1-3, 2-3, 2-6, 3-6, 3-7, 4-7, 4-8, 5-8, 5-9, 8-9, 8-16, 14-16, 14-17, 15-17, 15-18, 17-18 , 17-22
Service winners/errors: Berasaluze 0/0, Bengoetxea 2/1
Winners/errors: Berasaluze 11/3, Albisu 1/11, Bengoetxea 5/3, Beroiz 1/1
Match time: 68:13 with 25:33 of actual play
Balls hit: 501

In the Promocion Championship semi-finals, Gorka and Cecilio suffered the agony of a 21-22 defeat in their home town of Ezkaray by Rico IV and Untoria. Meanwhile, Apezetxea and Larrinaga won 22-7 over Tainta and Ladis Galarza at Ogueta.

Irujo-Zabaleta underline their favouritism in first semi romp

Saturday 31st March, Vitoria-Gasteiz


Pairs Championship Semi Final

Favourites Juan Martinez de Irujo and Jose Javier Zabaleta took first blood in the semi-finals with a resounding win over Aimar Olaizola and Ibai Zabala at Ogueta on Saturday. The Asegarce pair went ahead, briefly, but got no further than 4-2. Irujo and Zabaleta pulled level at 4-4 and from here on in it was for the most part one way traffic. The eventual victors knew that to ensure success they had to nullify the threat of Olaizola, and they did this with great skill. Most of the other pairs in the championship have failed in this task, allowing the sport’s current number one far too much space to dictate, but Irujo and Zabaleta sent the ball sailing over Olazioa’s head as often as they were able, placing mounting pressure on Ibai Zabala. Zabala is relatively new to the game at this level and has surprised many in the standard of his play thus far, but he found the favourites too hot to handle and crumbled under their pressure, committing a catalogue of errors. He repeatedly hit short of the ideal as Zabaleta pushed him back, mercilessly. This gave Irujo plenteous room to swing. The trailing pair shadowed their opponents reasonably closely for a time, holding them at 6-8 and 7-9, but from this point on there was no comeback as the blues shot to 7-17. It was a great shame for the public of Vitoria-Gasteiz that the hoped for Irujo-Olaizola duel failed to materialise, but the aficionados must surely have appreciated a tactical master display by probably the strongest pair in the competition. Such an easy win puts them in an excellent position as far as qualification for the final is concerned, while Olaizola and Zabala will have to both win and address their gaping points deficit.

Scoring sequence: 1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-1, 3-2, 4-2, 4-3, 4-4, 4-5, 4-6, 4-7, 5-7, 5 – 8, 6-8, 6-9, 7-9, 7-10, 7-11, 7-12, 7-13, 7-14, 7-15, 7-16, 7-17, 8-17, 8-18, 8-19, 8-20, 8-21, 8-22.
Service winners/errors: Irujo 7/0, Olaizola 0/0
Winners/errors: Irujo 13/1, Olaizola 4/2, Zabaleta 2/2, Zabala 1/5
Match time: 55:10
Balls hit: 388

Irujo: unstoppable

Irujo: unstoppable

Photo: mine

Mikel Idoate signs with Asegarce

Asegarce yesterday announced the signing of Mikel Idoate from Aspe for two years. He follows in the footsteps of Mikel Beroiz and Ladis Galarza who have both left Aspe for the Bilbao company in recent times. The move is likely fuelled the abundance of talent in the forwards department at Aspe, counterbalanced by the relative lack of it at Asegarce. Idoate has fallen into the gap between top tier pairs selection and the promocion tournaments, and is increasingly losing out to new talents like Ezkurdia and Jaunarena who are being pushed into the limelight. He is too good to be allowed to fall by the wayside. This move should revitalise the career of the 23 year old from Txantrea and afford him plentiful opportunities in the top flight. Asegarce have struggled for two or three years for a fourth elite forward to sit alongside Aimar Olaizoola, Bengoetxea VI and Berasaluze II. Asier Olaizola has been on the wane for a while and Iker Arretxe has failed to rise to the task on too many occasions. Idoate gives them new young blood and a talent bursting to show itself. He will play his first match for his new empresa on Saturday in Pamplona, where he is paired with Apraiz against Urrutikoetxea and Begino.