Tag Archives: Amorebieta

Pairs, week 11: five pairs now fight for three places

Saturday 3rd March, Pamplona: BENGOETXEA VI – APRAIZ beat ARITZ LASA – PASCUAL* 22-10

It is over and out for Aritz Lasa and the luckless Zubieta. There was talk of Zubieta returning this week but with qualification almost out of the question and a sensible desire to recover completely from the hand troubles which have plagued him this year, Pascual once again took up the mantle. Oinatz Bengoetxea has lacked consistency thus far in the tournament and needed a performance from the top drawer to remind both himself and us what a great player he is. At Labrit, he found his mojo with a staggering sixteen winners to no errors. Aritz Lasa, who showed flashes of brilliance last week, could not so much as hint at that this time round with a return of six to three. The defenders were more evenly matched, but in the face of a forward so completely on top of his game, their effect on the outcome of the match was minimal at best. Bengoextea and Apraiz are right in the frame for one of the remaining three semi-final places and with the unlikely demise of Irujo and Barriola, their chances look all the brighter.

Scoring sequence: 2-0, 2-2, 4-2, 4-5, 14-5, 14-6, 20-6, 20-10, 22-10

Winners/errors: Bengoetxea 16/0, Apraiz 2/2, Lasa 6/3, Pascual 1/1

Match time: 49 minutes

Pamplonas famous Labrit fronton

Pamplona's famous Labrit fronton

Saturday 3rd March, Amorebieta: BERASALUZE VIII – ALBISU beat XALA – LASKURAIN 22-12

This match was all about Pablo Berasaluze. Perhaps sensing that things were getting exceedingly tight in the fight for semi-final berths, the man from Berriz utterly annihilated Manomanista champion Xala in a whirlwind display of dominance. Fifteen winners in open play plus two with the serve tells its own story. In the face of this, Xala could only muster only one winner to one error. Xala and Laskurain had previously taken four matches in a row, but their run was brought to an abrupt halt as the Asegarce pair took their second win in as many weeks to slip into second place in the standings.

Scoring sequence: 1-1, 1-2, 2-5, 2-6, 3-11, 3-12, 4-12, 7-13, 8-15, 9-15, 11-16, 12-20, 12-22

Winners/errors: Xala 1/1, Laskurain 1/3, Berasaluze 17/6, Albisu 1/3

Match time: 1:23

Balls hit: 703

Berasaluze appears to like Amorebieta

Berasaluze appears to like Amorebieta

Sunday 4th March, Logrono: OLAIZOLA II – BEROIZ beat TITIN III – MERINO II 22-16

One almost runs out of things to say when reporting on yet another win for Olaizola and Beroiz, but at Adarraga their lives were not made easy. The home pairing of Titin and Merino took the game to the undefeated duo with much verve and no fear. Olaizola and Beroiz went ahead early, leading comfortably at 8-2 and 10-4, but their rivals fought back, taking the lead, and the match became exceedingly tight. The favourites drew level again at 15 and 16 and it seemed as if it would go down to the wire, with Olaizola showing rare signs of weakness. However, one crack in the Riojan army and he was able to seize the initiative, adding to his total of fifteen winners on his way to a 22-16 win which was in reality a closer run thing than the score might suggest. Beroiz was, again, imperious in defence, shading Merino in a battle of exciting young talent.

Scoring sequence: 0-2, 1-5, 2-8, 4-10, 8-10, 11-11, 11-13, 13-13, 15-13, 15-15, 16-16, 16-22

Winners/errors: Olaizola 15/4, Beroiz 1/1, Titin 9/3, Merino 2/3

Match time: 64 minutes

Balls hit: 499

The Pairs table, with three weeks to go, looks like this:









1 OLAIZOLA II – BEROIZ 11 11 0 242 135 +107
2 BERASALUZE VIII – ALBIS U 11 6 5 204 183 +21
3 TITIN III – MERINO II 11 6 5 211 198 +13
4 XALA – LASKURAIN 11 6 5 199 190 +9
5 BENGOETXEA VI – APRAIZ 11 6 5 194 197 -3
6 MTZ de IRUJO – BARRIOLA 11 5 6 205 191 +14
7 ARITZ LASA – ZUBIETA 11 3 8 170 217 -47
8 ARRETXE II – BEGINO 11 1 10 121 235 -114

 Photos: mine

Defenders call the shots as Titin and Pascual record another win

Friday 29th January, Amorebieta-Etxano


On Friday night, the people of Amorebieta witnessed an enthralling match, which ebbed and flowed like the tide of the Bizkaia coastline. As is often the case, most eyes were on the forwards. Titin III has played in a way which has belied his years in this tournament so far and applies boundless determination to everything he does. Tenacity is the word which comes to mind at the name of Berasaluze VIII. Pablito is a compact cannonball of a player who throws himself at anything and everything. However fascinating the fight up front though, the defenders were the difference here. Their trade is not as glamorous, not as flashy, as that of their attacking partners. It is rarely left to defenders to fling pinpoint perfect gantxos across the frontis, or to make the crowd gasp, but without a solid defender there is no platform for attack. Rare is the defender who can make something positive out of a desperate rearguard action, and Titin must therefore give thanks daily for the presence of Inigo Pascual at his rear. Berasaluze had no such magic carpet to ride.

The match began positively for Pablito and Begino. The Asegarce pair had failed to fire in the tournament, as they did last year, and for a while it looked as if they had resurrected their touch, assuming a 1-7 lead. The ball was set in motion by two rather ring rusty errors from Titin, but winners abounded too. Berasaluze’s serve was a dominant weapon which set the scene for several beautifully worked set pieces, and Begino, showing a clear intention to test Pascual, managed a rebote which proved unplayable. However, the Aspe pair rallied with intent, drew level at 7-7, and then edged ahead. Begino committed his first two errors at this juncture and they could be seen as symptomatic of what was to come. Pascual’s long range hitting game swung into gear and Titin loosened his arm, outmanoeuvring Berasaluze easily before finishing him off by hitting into clear space.

The middle phase of the encounter was tight and edgy, with the pairs tied at 9-9, 10-10 and 12-12. There were impressive winners from both forwards, as well as, less positively for Berasaluze, a falta, and the battle of the gargantuan strikes from the defenders continued: Pascual sent a searing ball spiralling long and high at a hapless Begino on 9-9 and Begino managed another impressive rebote on 12-12. The Asegarce partnership fought their way to a three point lead at 12-15 and looked composed and set to battle to the death.

However, the game swung in the blink of an eye, and the sea change centred on Begino. In the last nine points of the match, which took the score from 13-15 to 22-15, Begino made seven errors. His misdemeanours came in all forms, from total miscues, to misdirected and mistimed strikes, to overambitious attempted winners. He continued to test Pascual with high bombs but the Aspe defender was more than up to the task, returning everything with interest. The miracle Pascual pulled off to take the score to 20-15 was the shot of the match; pinned to the back wall, he did well to return a long ball in the right direction. Few could have turned it into a winner. True, the losing pair assumed he would not make it until it was too late to get in position for the return, but it underlined both the skill of Pascual and the never say die attitude of his partnership. As Begino lost the plot, his opposite number took up the thread and created a masterpiece.

It is obvious from the mounting error count of Begino that the varying fortunes of the defenders decided the outcome of this match. Pascual, while not free from all error, was a tower of strength, whereas Begino, for all his clever early tactics, crumbled in an instant. Titin also played a blinding game, all swagger and fight. Berasaluze was almost Titin’s equal and deserves credit for some exhilarating play, but Begino became a millstone. This was the third win of the tournament for Titin and Pascual, who now go second in the table. Berasaluze and Begino need to initiate a winning streak if they are going to play a part in the semi finals.

Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 1-7, 7-7, 8-7, 8-8, 8-9, 9-9, 10-9, 10-10, 10-12, 11-12, 12-12, 12-15, 22-15.

Inigo Pascual had an excellent night

Inigo Pascual had an excellent night

Image from: Diario de Navarra

Manomanista Championship: Patxi Ruiz too good for Inigo Leiza

Friday 17th April

The first of the third round matches saw the entry of the first former champion. Patxi Ruiz won the Manomanista Championship in 2003, beating an injury afflicted Aimar Olaizola in the final. In order to progress into the latter stages of this year’s competition, the Navarrese defender will have to overcome injury troubles of his own. This very week, he informed the world, through the medium of Radio Euskadi, that he is not sure how much longer his back, which was operated upon in the autumn, will allow him to continue in the sport. He even went as far as to say that he had only entered this championship for the sake of his empresa. What sort of Patxi Ruiz, we wondered, would be on show in Amorebieta on Friday night? In his path stood the 28 year old Bizkaian Inigo Leiza, whose only manomanista triumph came in the second division championship in 2005. Leiza appeared to be in good form, having defeated Berasaluze IX last week, a player who himself has seemed on fire of late. However, in a topsy turvy match, it was Patxi who would overcome.

The early exchanges were all about Patxi Ruiz, who appeared a changed man from the player who, along with Asier Olaizola, propped up the table in the recent Pairs Championship. There, the pelotari from Estella seemed constantly out of his depth and never found any rhythm or confidence. Although the first point in this encounter went to Leiza, Patxi stamped his authority in the course of the next six, his serve and volley working to perfection. His opponent on the other hand looked ill at ease, his three errors coming as a direct result of the pressure exerted by his rival. However, it was not to be one way traffic and Leiza did find his touch. The turning point came in the play which took the score to 2-6; Patxi Ruiz pulled off two excellent saves in defence but could not prevent Leiza from playing him like a puppet on a string. As he dived, Leiza sent the ball spiralling over his head. Leiza went on to take the next five points, aided by three misses on the part of Patxi and two volley winners of his own.

With the score tied at 7-7, the crowd, who were mostly rather subdued, sensed a fight and warmed to the occasion. However, the latent class of Patxi Ruiz began to tell and the former champion, solid rather than flashy, began to build a lead. As the score crept from 7-7 to 12-7, Patxi ground his opponent into the floor in the style of a master accumulator rather than going for the knockout punch, though there was no doubt as to who was the superior player. Patxi displayed strength in closing out points with a beautifully judged drop and a driven volley which confused Leiza to the extent that he did not even chase it, but his greatest strength was in forcing his rival to crack. This was nowhere more obvious than in the point which took the score to 9-7, in which he repeatedly pushed Leiza back, mercilessly testing his overhead volleying power until he could take it no more.

Leiza did find the power to retaliate but his comeback attempt fell short of achieving parity with his opponent and in reality, Patxi never looked like a loser. As he carried on in the same vein of consistency, Leiza looked like a man who knew he was in for a beating. The errors became more numerous and as he hit high, miscued, and sometimes missed altogether, Patxi bossed the closing points with abandon, tying his opponent to the frontis before daring him to fetch balls for which he had to hare backwards in hopeless desperation. Leiza managed to accumulate a handful of points, more through Patxi’s carelessness than his own skill.

So, it is the 2003 victor who progresses to the next round, where he will face the formidable obstacle of defending champion Oinatz Bengoetxea, who showed good form in the curtain raising doubles match which preceded this manomanista encounter. There was little sign in the course of the play of discomfort caused by Patxi’s back, but he did use the rest periods to stretch, indicating that the problem is very much a reality. Only time will tell how much of an onslaught he can withstand, for there will surely be tougher tests ahead.

Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 6-1, 6-7, 7-7, 12-7, 12-8, 12-11, 15-11, 15-12, 18-12, 18-13 and 22-13.

Patxi Ruiz victorious

Patxi Ruiz victorious

Image from: Asegarce

Second division mano pairs final: victory for Berasaluze IX and Urberuaga

Saturday 21st March

In front of a capacity audience in Amorebieta, Asier Berasluze and Xabier Urberuaga were crowned champions in the second tier pairs competition on Saturday. The Aspe pair totally outclassed the Asegarce partnership of Aratz Mendizabal and Ibai Zabala. Zabala played a solid match but could not dent the armoury of 27 year old Bizkaian Urberuaga. The latter gave invaluable support to his attacking partner Beraslauze who used speed and guile to both outwit and out-hit Mendizabal and was especially deadly with his right hand and in his serve. This was a first pairs triumph for the victors, who have both previously won the second tier manomanista title, Beraslauze in 2006 and Urberuaga in 2007. Urberuaga has the added pleasure of going to the top, for the time being, of the manista.com rankings.

Asier Berasaluze

Asier Berasaluze

Image from: http://www.gara.net/Repository/Imagenes/Pub_3/Issue_1457/p045_f01.jpg