Tag Archives: capellan

Presenting the Finalists: Berasaluze II and Albisu

Pablo Berasaluze Zabala was born in 1977 in Berriz, a town of around 5000 inhabitants nestled between Durango and Zaldibar in Bizkaia. He made his professional debut in 1998 at the age of 20, at the Municipal Fronton of Bergara, after a successful amateur career which saw him take the Liga Vasca de Clubes title in 1994 and the Torneo El Diario Vasco pairs title in 1997. Although he has been a regular feature in the top flight of pelota for many years, Berasaluze has yet to win a major championship title. His Pairs Championship record is not a stellar one; he has reached the semi-finals on only two occasions in seven attempts, but the second of these appearances came last year with Albisu, his partner this time round. On that occasion they won only one of their semis in what was essentially a dead rubber against Titin III and Zabaleta (the latter replacing Merino II for the eventual champions). This year they have fought to the death and come through against all the odds, testament to the fighting spirit for which Berasaluze is famous. He plays with commitment and extraordinary verve, his small stature combined with his determination reminding one of a terrier at work. A terrific player who has bloomed late in his career, Berasaluze surely deserves at least one major championship txapela to show for his efforts and in the year when he changed his playing name from Berasaluze VIII to Berasaluze II in honour of his late father, a win on Sunday would be a fitting tribute.

Pairs record
2003 with Beloki, group stages
2004 with Zearra, group stages
2005 with Patxi Ruiz, group stages
2009 with Zearra, semi-finals
2010 with Begino, group stages
2011 with Apraiz, group stages
2012 with Albisu, semi-finals

Previous professional titles

Jon Ander Albisu is, at the age of 22, a pelotari just coming into his own. Regarded since the start of his career as a huge talent who could not find consistency, this tournament has represented a watershed; his playing has at times been erratic but at times inspired and coupled with the dynamism of Berasaluze his determination has seen him through. Albisu was born in Ataun, in the Goierri region of Gipuzkoa. He has an impressive amateur palmares which includes the Torneo del Antiguo pairs title in 2008, the championship of Euskadi individual titles in 2009 and 2010 and the GRAVN individual crown in 2010. These showings were enough to merit a contract with Asegarce, with whom he made his debut in July 2010 in Tolosa. A year later he took his only professional title to date, winning the Promocion Pairs Championship with Olaetxea, beating Gorka and Merino I in the final. In 2012 he was promoted to the top tier tournament, making the semi-finals with current partner Berasaluze. Whatever happens on Sunday, the 2013 Pairs final will be a defining moment in Albisu’s career, the moment he moved from promising young player to genuine title contender. He has shown a great deal of grit in this championship, absorbing much criticism in the press to come good when it matters. He will be scrutinised more than anyone else, for Asegarce’s victory bid rests on which Albisu takes to the fronton, the confident new star or the inconsistent youngster.

Pairs record
2012 with Berasaluze II, semi-finals

Previous professional titles
2011 Promocion Pairs Championship, with Olaetxea

Photos: mine

Rioja rejoices in emotionally charged night at Adarraga

Sunday 14th February, Logrono


Pairs Championship

Sunday night was an emotional one for the Riojan pelota fan. Nominally, the main match on the bill at Adarraga was the championship game, featuring Titin III, their most famous son, but the curtain raiser starred another pelotari from the region, Miguel Capellan, in his last professional match. Fittingly, ‘Cape’ went out victorious, with an easy win over Apezetxea and Goni III, aided ably by Eulate. In a touching tribute, Capellan was showered with gifts and mementos to mark the end of a career which has spanned over eighteen years. He departed, finally, swathed in the flag of Rioja, and the local crowd were primed to perfection to shout their beloved Titin to victory.

Nobody gave Ekaitz Saralegi and Alexis Apraiz a hope in the run up to the main match. They formed the couple which had originally featured Asier Olaizola and Patxi Ruiz, both currently out of action and there naturally seemed a makeshift air about their partnership; most believed them ripe for a trouncing. As predicted, they succumbed to the greater force of Titin and Pascual but they came to Adarraga for a fight, and a fight they delivered. To their great credit, the underdogs went for their shots with determination and their spirit often paid dividends. Between them they scored twelve winners, three more than their opponents managed. Saralegi showed in the second point that he was not there to make up numbers with some scrapping defence followed by a txoko winner. It was a shot he used to good effect throughout the game and he also demonstrated his ability to go crosscourt, encapsulated in his lightning bolt of an airez on 3-6. Apraiz also got in on the act, pulling off an excellent rebote, much to the chagrin of Pascual, on his way to three outright winners in the match. However, for every winner they scored there was a mistake and it was their inconsistency which put them out of the running. In the early part of the game, their errors gave Titin and Pascual a platform which they never surrendered. Some of these errors were the fruit of too much ambition, such as Saralegi’s three missed gantxos in the first half of the match, but some were wild and careless. Apraiz was especially guilty of the latter at times, showing misdirection and inaccurate timing once too often.

Titin and Pascual, in contrast to their rivals, finished the match almost error free, the one indiscretion coming from Titin in the third point. Pascual in particular was exemplary. In the very early exchanges, Apraiz looked to have his number but the man from Abarzuza proved to have an extra gear. He was particularly effective in fielding balls which dipped into the left hand wall and in the length department, only Apraiz’s rebote foxed him all night. He proved an excellent support for Titin, who although not on his best form, had the better of Saralegi by some margin.

Saralegi and Apraiz are realistically out of the running for a semi final birth, with one win out of six games. It remains to be seen which incarnation of this pair will take to the fronton over the next two weeks, in which they will face Gonzalez-Laskurain and Xala-Zubieta. Pascual and local hero Titin have one foot in the last four, needing only one point to make their place secure. They will in all likelihood start as favourites in their remaining matches, against Bengoetxea VI-Beloki and Berasaluze VIII-Begino. All in all, this was a good night to be a Riojan.

Scoring sequence: 1-0, 1-2, 2-2, 2-3, 6-3, 6-4, 8-4, 8-5, 9-5, 9-7, 13-7, 13-8, 17-8, 17-9, 18-9, 18-10, 19-10, 19-14, 22-14

Titin is revered at home in Rioja

Titin is revered at home in Rioja

Image from: Rioja Deporte

Capellan’s last match

Aspe have announced that Miguel Capellan will play his last professional match on Sunday 14th February at his home fronton, Adarraga in Logrono. His will be the first match of the evening and it will be followed by a brief tribute to the 39 year old Riojan pelotari whose career has spanned over seventeen years. Capellan will play two matches before his last hurrah, on Monday in Tolosa and on 7th February in Eibar.

Image from: La Rioja

Mano results roundup: Ipar Kutxa Final and Cecilio's debut

Ipar Kutxa Final

The Ipar Kutxa Tournament is a doubles competition involving some of the best pelotaris not entered, or no longer involved, in the Manomanista Championship. Each empresa entered two pairs as follows:

For Asegarce: Berasaluze VIII – Begino and Olaizola I – Mendizabal II
For Aspe: Gonzalez – Laskurain and Titin III – Pascual

In the first semi final, which took place in Villamediana de Iregua on 16th May, Asier Olaizola, a losing Manomanista quarter finalist, and Oier Mendizabal defeated Titin III and Pascual 22-15. The second was a tight affair which saw the victors escape the clutches of their opponents only in the dying points of the game. Those victors were Sebastian Gonzalez and Aritz Laskurain, who triumphed over Pablo Berasaluze and Aritz Begino by 22 points to 18 in Bermeo.

The final was held on Saturday 30th May at Beotibar in Tolosa and in a tough encounter, where the scores were tied at 15-15, the plaudits went to Gonzalez and Laskurain, who eventually ran out 22-16 winners over Olaizola I and Mendizabal II. In a match which lasted 73 gruelling minutes, fatigue set in for the losing pair as the skill of Gonzalez proved telling.

Cecilio delivers dream debut

Today (Sunday 31st May) saw the professional debut of the 21 year old Riojan Cecilio Valgañón in his home town of Ezcaray. The defender recently signed a two year contract with ASPE. Hailing from the Titin III Centre for High Performance, Cecilio is the under 22 World Champion and also won the Diario Vasco Tournament in 2008.

In his first match for his new empresa, he was paired with his fellow Riojan Titin III against Capellan and Goni III and he could not have got his career off to a better start. In a 22-7 victory, the debutant and his veteran partner crushed the life out of their considerable opponents. Titin was on sparking form, particularly ruthless in his aggressive hooks and beautifully delicate in his deft touches to the corner. Cecilio too showed impressive skill, especially from the back of the fronton from where he let rip with his powerful right arm. He displayed a young man’s lack of nerves as he entered into the tough new environment of professional mano, and on this showing he should thrive. He and Titin were aided by the errors of their adversaries; while Fernando Goni was for the most part his usual solid self, Capellan was a clear second best to Titin and appeared at sea. As the winning shot was struck, Cecilio’s sizable fan club erupted with a barrage of drumming and shouting, before the young man was hoisted aloft, the hero of the evening.

Cecilio Valgañón González
Date of birth: 28/09/1987
Place of birth: Ezcaray (La Rioja)
Weight: 92 kg
Height: 1.89m
Position: defender
Past results: Campeonato del Mundo, sub-22, 2008; Campeonato de España de Clubes, 2008; Campeonato Diario Vasco 2008; Campeón GRAVN sub-22 parejas, 2007

New pro Cecilio

New pro Cecilio

Image from: ASPE