Tag Archives: Pairs Promocion

Pairs Championship: all set for the semis

Apologies for yet more silence from the blog in the past week or so. Things have been difficult in many ways at my end, while the world of pelota has moved on apace. The semi-finalists are set and the first of the matches in the last four take place this weekend. Last week’s results were as follows:

Friday 22nd March, Mutilva: MARTINEZ DE IRUJO – ZABALETA beat ARRETXE II – BEGINO 22-8
Saturday 23rd March, Pamplona: BENGOETXEA VI – BEROIZ beat TITIN III – MERINO II 22-8
Saturday 23rd March, Bilbao: XALA – BARRIOLA beat BERASALUZE II – ALBISU 22-20
Sunday 24th March, Eibar: OLAIZOLA II – IBAI ZABALA beat EZKURDIA – ZUBIETA 22-11

Three of the semi-finalists, Irujo-Zabaleta, Bengoetxea VI-Beroiz and Olaizola II-Ibai Zabala had been set but the big story of the past two weeks has been the fight for the fourth spot between Berasaluze-Albisu and defending champions Titin-Merino. In the end, it was the former who squeezed in, ending the defence of the Riojans who suffered a heavy defeat in Pamplona. Berasaluze and Albisu also lost, but did enough given their superior points difference. The final table looks like this:

Pair Games Won Lost Points for Points against Points diff.
1 MTEZ IRUJO – ZABALETA 14 11 3 291 224 +67
2 OLAIZOLA II – IBAI ZABALA 14 10 4 287 209 +78
3 BENGOETXEA VI – BEROIZ 14 10 4 283 244 +39
4 BERASALUZE VIII – ALBISU 14 6 8 256 271 -15
5 TITIN III – MERINO II 14 6 8 243 284 -41
6 EZKURDIA – ZUBIETA 14 5 9 254 255 -1
7 XALA – BARRIOLA 14 5 9 241 287 -46
8 ARRETXE II – BEGINO 14 3 11 210 291 -81

The first semi-final pits Olaizola II-Ibai Zabala against Martinez de Irujo-Zabaleta (Vitoria-Gasteiz, Saturday) while Bengoetxea VI-Beroiz play Berasaluze II-Albisu in Eibar on Sunday. For a full round up of all the results from the round robin stages, see Aspe’s webpages.

Bengoetxea is in, but Titin is out

Bengoetxea is in, but Titin is out

The Promocion championship has also reached the semi-final stage, with standout pair Gorka-Cecilio sitting proudly atop the table.

Pair Games Won Lost Points for Points against Points diff.
1 GORKA – CECILIO 11 9 2 225 157 68
2 APEZETXEA – LARRINAGA 11 8 3 215 182 33
3 RICO IV – UNTORIA 11 7 4 215 184 31
4 TAINTA – LADIS GALARZA 11 6 5 215 195 20
5 MENDIZABAL III – MERINO 11 5 6 205 204 1
6 OLAZABAL – ARRUTI 11 3 8 177 209 -32
7 ELEZKANO II – LARUNBE 11 3 8 159 205 -46
8 LEMUNO – ARETXABALETA 11 3 8 148 223 -75

Both of the opening semis take place on Saturday. Gorka and Cecilio get a home match in Ezkaray against Rico IV and Untoria, while Apezetxea and Larrinaga play Tainta and Ladis Galarza in Vitoria-Gasteiz. For all the results from the round robin, see here.

Untoria and Gorka will face off on Saturday

Untoria and Gorka will face off on Saturday

Photos: mine

Pairs Championship: the past two weeks

Apologies for the silence over the past couple of weeks; I have been away. Sadly there are not enough hours in the day to write a comprehensive report of everything which has happened in this time, so a potted results list will have to suffice! The matches from 1st-3rd March saw the following:

Friday 1st March, Urduliz: BERASALUZE VIII – ALBISU beat EZKURDIA – ZUBIETA 22-17
Saturday 2nd March, Pamplona: BENGOETXEA VI – BEROIZ beat XALA – BARRIOLA 22-10
Sunday 3rd March, Logrono: ARRETXE II – BEGINO beat TITIN III – MERINO II 22-19

The following week, this is what occurred:

Friday 8th March, Zarautz: BENGOETXEA VI – BEROIZ beat ARRETXE II – BEGINO 22-15
Saturday 9th March, Anglet: OLAIZOLA II – IBAI ZABALA beat XALA – BARRIOLA 22-12
Saturday 9th March, Etxebarri: TITIN III – MERINO II beat EZKURDIA – ZUBIETA 22-21

Thus, with two weeks remaining in the marathon round robin section of the championship, the table looks like this:

Pair Played Won Lost Points for Points against Points diff.
1 MTZ. DE IRUJO – ZABALETA 12 9 3 247 198 49
2 BENGOETXEA VI – BEROIZ 12 9 3 248 214 34
3 OLAIZOLA II – IBAI ZABALA 12 8 4 243 186 57
4 TITIN III – MERINO II 12 6 6 221 240 -19
5 BERASALUZE VIII – ALBISU 12 5 7 214 235 -21
6 EZKURDIA – ZUBIETA 12 4 8 221 220 1
7 XALA – BARRIOLA 12 4 8 201 245 -44
8 ARRETXE II – BEGINO 12 3 9 190 247 -57

The top three pairs are all but safe as far as semi-final qualification is concerned, although Martinez de Irujo and Zabaleta saw their dominance challenged by a resurgent Bengoetxea and Beroiz. The latter had looked like the pick of the crop at the start of the tournament before falling under the shadow of their Aspe rivals, but two straight wins coupled with a surprising loss for Irujo and Zabaleta have seen them draw level at the top. Olaizola and Ibai Zabala saw their excellent run end in an easy defeat by Irujo and Zabaleta but a comprehensive win over Xala and Barriola, who now seem out of it, restored them to safety. The interest now lies in the fourth qualification place, which would seem to be between Titin and Merino, the defending champions, and Berasaluze and Albisu, who have pulled themselves from the mire in these past two weeks. The Riojans have the upper hand in terms of points but it could go either way, and happily as far as the drama of the situation is concerned, they meet each other this Saturday in Bilbao. Ezkurdia and Zubieta could still qualify, mathematically but they squandered two golden opportunities in the past two weeks. They went into their game on 1st March as probable favourites over Berasaluze and Albisu but were never really in it, and then lost by the smallest possible margin to Titin and Merino a week later. If the final point of that match had gone the other way, they could now face the final two weeks with some confidence. They need to win and for results to go for them in a big way, but at least they have a relatively healthy points difference when compared to Xala and Barriola, who are level in terms of wins and losses. They would need a miracle to turn things around.

The Promocion Championship also has another two weeks of round robin matches left, and again there is a tough fight underway for the fourth qualifying spot. For results and remaining fixtures, see here.

Pair Played Won Lost Points for Points against Points diff.
1 GORKA – CECILIO 9 8 1 190 126 64
2 APEZETXEA – LARRINAGA 9 7 2 183 154 29
3 RICO IV – UNTORIA 9 6 3 175 142 33
4 MENDIZABAL III – MERINO 9 4 5 165 164 1
5 TAINTA – LADIS GALARZA 9 4 5 171 172 -1
6 ELEZKANO II – LARUNBE 9 3 6 145 161 -16
7 OLAZABAL – ARRUTI 9 2 7 135 180 -45
8 LEMUNO – ARETXABALETA 9 2 7 118 183 -65

Pairs Championship: a brief round up

I am away this week so do not have time to write reports on this week’s Pairs games, but these are the results from the past weekend:

Friday 22nd February, Donibane Garazi: TITIN III – MERINO II beat XALA – BARRIOLA 22-9
Saturday 23rd February, Vitoria-Gasteiz: BENGOETXEA VI – BEROIZ beat RETEGI BI* – ZABALETA 22-8
Saturday 23rd February, Pamplona: EZKURDIA – ZUBIETA beat ARRETXE II – BEGINO 22-13
Sunday 24th February, Eibar: OLAIZOLA II – IBAI ZABALA beat BERASALUZE VIII – ALBISU 22-11

In the Promocion Championship:

Friday 22nd February, Donibane Garazi: MENDIZABAL III – MERINO beat LEMUNO – ARETXABALETA 22-12
Saturday 23rd February, Vitoria-Gasteiz: APEZETXEA – PENAGARIKANO* beat ELEZKANO II – LARUNBE 22-14
Saturday 23rd February, Pamplona: TAINTA – LADIS GALARZA beat ARITZ LASA* – CECILIO 22-14
Sunday 24th February, Eibar: RICO IV – MENDIZABAL II beat OLAZABAL – ARRUTI 22-15

The main championship table now looks like this, and the Promocion table like this.

Pairs Championship: Arretxe and Begino net second win

Tuesday 12th February, Tolosa


This year as last, there has been little joy in the Pairs Championship for Iker Arretxe and Aritz Begino, but the level they found in their game on Tuesday was something far more exalted. There is no question that Berasaluze and Albisu, who had put together a run of wins after a shaky start, were the favourites going into this match but their play was nervous and error strewn. In contrast, their opponents barely put a foot wrong. The game was close in the early stages and stood at 9-10 before Arretxe and Begino pulled away to win at a canter. This result means the table is now packed tightly, with the partnerships disputing fifth, sixth and seventh level on points and only one point off the qualifying spots. Arretxe and Begino are still bottom, but moving up is now a possibility; they are a mere two points off fourth place.

Scoring sequence: 1-0, 3-4, 6-6, 6-10, 9-11, 9-18, 10-18, 10-22

In the Promocion Championship, Gorka-Cecilio went clear at the top, beating Apezetxea-Larrinaga who were also previously undefeated. The margin of victory was 22-16. Elsewhere, Mendizabal III-Merino I beat Aritz Lasa (replacing Olazabal)-Arruti 22-6, Rico IV-Untoria beat Lemuno-Mendizabal II (replacing Aretxabaleta) 22-17 and Olaetxea (replacing Tainta)-Ladis Galarza beat Urrutikoetxea (replacing Elezkano II)-Larunbe 22-17. Their table can be seen here.

Martinez de Irujo and Zabaleta consolidate while Olaizola and Ibai Zabala climb the tree

There was high octane play in the Riojan capital of Logrono on Sunday evening as table toppers Martinez de Irujo and Zabaleta came from behind to beat Titin III and Merino II 22-20 in a match that lasted almost an hour and a half. The momentum of the game changed on a sixpence many times over. The defending champions, playing front of a passionate home crowd, started the better, going 3-0 ahead. Even when they were pegged back and overtaken, they found the strength to forge on again, taking their lead to 10-6, 12-7 and 13-8. Irujo and Zabaleta fought back however, drawing level at fourteen and then sixteen apiece. Titin and Merino looked to have rediscovered their command of the situation when they took a 19-16 and 20-18 lead, but again they were undone with the increasingly powerful Irujo and Zabaleta coming through at the death to take four consecutive points, and with them the win. While there was much scintillating play to thrill the Adarraga crowd, there were also many mistakes, but these did not detract from the drama of the game. Especially engrossing was the tooth and nail fight at the back of the fronton between the two young defenders, who gave yet another demonstration of the youthful talent which fills Aspe’s roster.

Aimar Olaizola and Ibai Zabala moved up to second in the table on Saturday with a hard fought 22-19 victory over former top pair Bengoetxea VI and Beroiz. Labrit was full for this much anticipated encounter, as locals came in their droves to see whether the combined solidity of Bengoetxea and Beroiz would be enough to dampen the spark of Olaizola. Though the pair in blue pushed them all the way however, Goizueta’s most famous son proved once more that despite an inexperienced partner in tow, any pair with him at the helm will be very hard to stop. The game was very even from the start with the spoils shared at 3-3, but Olaizola and Zabala soon moved into a 6-3 lead. Beroiz failed to place enough pressure on Olaizola and fed him too many easy balls with which he was all too willing to mete out punishment; 6-3 became 8-3. Bengoetxea staged a fight back however, and with Beroiz in increasingly solid support seized the lead back at 9-10, and then 9-12, with some dominant shot play. It cost the red pair much effort to fight back but they scrapped their way to the lead again at 14-13. Deadlock ensued as the pairs could not be separated, tied at 17, 18 and 19. From this juncture thought, Olaizola stepped up a gear, and wasted little time in hitting his way to victory, 22-19 the final score. Bengoetxea and Beroiz, who looked invincible a few weeks back, are now on something of a losing run. Olaizola and Ibai Zabala, on the other hand, may now dare to dream of the semi-finals. There is a short highlights video on etb, here.

Meanwhile, in the Promocion Championship, Gorka and Cecilio became the only unbeaten pair in the competition, beating Apezetxea and Larrinaga 22-16 in Logrono. They now sit atop the table alone. At Labrit, Mendizabal III and Merino put Aritz Lasa (playing for Olazabal) and Arruti to the sword, winning 22-6.

Irujo and Zabaleta are in a position of strength

Irujo and Zabaleta are in a position of strength

Photo: mine

Promocion Pairs Championship: the story after two weeks

There are two pairs in a share of the lead in the Promocion Pairs Championship, in which two rounds are complete. Topping the table are Apezetxea and Larrinaga, who have registered easy wins over both Olazabal and Arruti, and Olaetxea and Aretxabaleta. Nipping at their heels is the all-Riojan pair of Gorka and Cecilio, who have also won both their games, against Mendizabal III and Merino I, and the other Riojan representatives Rico IV and Untoria. At the opposite end of the table, Tainta-Ladis Galarza and Mendizabal III-Merino I have yet to score. The full table is as follows:

Pair Played Won Lost Points for Points against Points difference
1 Apezetxea-Larrinaga 2 2 0 44 19 25
2 Gorka-Cecilio 2 2 0 44 30 14
3 Rico IV-Untoria 2 1 1 34 33 1
4 Lemuno-Aretxabaleta 2 1 1 35 35 0
5 Olazabal-Arruti 2 1 1 28 42 -14
6 Elezkano-Larunbe 2 1 1 33 32 1
7 Tainta-Ladis Galarza 2 0 2 33 44 -11
8 Mendizabal III-Merino I 2 0 2 28 44 -16

For a full run down of all the Promocion results and fixtures, see Asegarce’s webpage.

Promocion Pairs Championship announced

The combinations have been announced for the Promocion Pairs Championships, which start this Friday in Zaldibar. They are as follows:

For Asegarce: Elezkano-Larunbe, Rico IV-Untoria, Lemuno-Aretxabaleta, Tainta-Ladis Galarza

For Aspe: Gorka-Cecilio, Apezetxea-Larrinaga, Olazabal-Arruti, Mendizabal III-Merino I

The matches in the first rotation will be:

Friday, Zaldibar: Rico IV-Untoria v Elezkano-Larunbe
Saturday, Pamplona: Lemuno-Aretxabaleta v Tainta-Ladis Galarza
Sunday, Eibar: Gorka-Cecilio v Mendizabal III-Arruti
Monday, Tolosa: Apezetxea-Larrinaga v Olazabal-Arruti

Promocion Pairs: Belated Congratulations to Jaunarena and Cecilio

Saturday 28th April, Pamplona


Promocion Pairs Final

I was in the Basque Country while the Promocion Pairs final took place but was unable to get to Labrit, and as I had limited internet time while I was there and have devoted this week to writing about the main championship final, this game has been rather overlooked. However, it was no less important to their pairs involved, who had battled since January for place in the last two. Throughout the tournament, Jon Jaunarena and Cecilio Valganon, and Mikel Olazabal and Inaki Larrinaga have been the best and so it was fitting that they should meet to fight it out for the prize. By all accounts the favourites were dominant from 6-7 onwards, with Olazabal failing to push Jaunarena onto the back foot and Larrinaga less effective from long than Cecilio. A txapela here for Cecilio (24, Ezcaray) means that of the four individuals to triumph in the two pairs championships, three are from La Rioja. A golden age for them indeed. This also represents a first professional championship win for 20 year old Leitzarra Jaunarena, who looks set to be the next great player from that talent-rich Navarrese town. Congratulations to them both.

More success for La Rioja in the form of Cecilio

More success for La Rioja in the form of Cecilio

Photo: mine

Shock in Bilbao as Xala and Laskurain make a final without big favourites

Friday 13th April, Bilbao


Friday 13th, unlucky for some, and certainly unlucky for Aimar Olaizola and Mikel Beroiz. Save for one narrow loss to Titin III and Merino II the previous week, Asegarce’s flagship pairing had blazed an unbeaten trail through the 2012 Pairs Championship, winning fifteen matches in a row. They had to win here to secure their place in the final, a place which had seemed a certainty for weeks on end. They had one foot over the line, and most of the second as they found themselves in a 16-7 lead here. However, an injury to the right hand of Beroiz, exacerbated at 10-5 when he left the field of play for treatment, proved their spectacular undoing. This state of affairs is to take nothing away from Xala and Laskurain, who knew exactly what they had to do to exploit the defensive hole left by their opponents and followed a ruthless plan to absolute perfection. They only just scraped into the semi finals at the expense of pre-tournament favourites Irujo and Barriola, and now find themselves in the final. As Beroiz missed to hand them their 22-18 win they could scarcely believe what had happened to them.

The first half of the match was all Aimar and Beroiz. Beroiz was not as solid as of late and clearly not on top form, but thanks to the continuing winning swagger of Aimar, his contribution seemed more than enough. Xala made two hapless errors in a row to hand the favourites a 3-8 advantage and it was very evident who was on top both in the mental stakes and in reality. Xala served his way back into some contention but Aimar was in no mood to mess around, playing Laskurain like a puppet on a string for a 10-5 lead clinched with a trademark gantxo. When Beroiz returned from his injury break, things were clearly not all well but Aimar, well aware of the situation, shouldered responsibility for keeping the ball away from his partner as much as he realistically could. He looked imperious in stretching their advantage to 13-5, using his serve as a platform for the domination of three points on the trot.

However, there was a limit to the amount of time that one player, however great, could take so much of the play on himself. Beroiz ceded the serve at 8-16 with a mishit and Xala and Laskurain seized the day. They repeatedly pummelled Beroiz, who had no hitting power and no answer. It was a simple but brutally effective tactic and worked to a tee. Aimar, presumably realising the need to grasp chances for winners when he had them in order to shorten each rally, missed a brace of winner chances and the pressure continued unabated. When Beroiz did not miscue or fall short, his returns were not deep enough and presented Xala with easy opportunities to put points away. The man from Lekuine also served with great accuracy; no trick was missed. As Aimar found in the Manomanista final last year summer, when Xala eyes the prize he rarely lets up and so it proved here. Injury to Beroiz or no, this was a staggering comeback. Beroiz ended with seven errors, though in reality many more points were lost as a direct result of his weakness. Aimar was on paper at least the better of the forwards but circumstance prevailed against him. Sport can be cruel.

Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 1-3, 3-3, 3-9, 5-9, 5-10, 5-13, 7-13, 7-16, 14-16, 14-17, 18-17, 18-18, 22-18.

Winners/errors: Xala 8/5, Olaizola 10/4, Laskurain 3/3, Beroiz 0/7.

On Sunday, the line-up for the Promocion Final was completed as OLAZABAL – LARRINAGA beat RICO IV – UNTORIA 22-17 in Pamplona. They will return to Labrit on Saturday 28th April to play JAUNARENA – CECILIO for the title. Jaunarena-Cecilio beat a spirited URRUTIKOETXEA – IBAI ZABALA 22-20 in the dead rubber in Eibar. The main Pairs Final takes place on Sunday 29th April at Bizkaia in Bilbao and I will be there to report from the scene!

Promocion Pairs: Jaunarena and Cecilio the first finalists

Jon Jaunarena and Cecilio Valganon have become the first pair to qualify for the final of the Promocion Pairs Championship. They reached the last two with their second win of the semi finals, taking a resounding 22-8 win over Mikel Olazabal and Inaki Larrinaga in Ezcaray on Friday. This win represents a massive signal of intent for the Navarre-Riojas duo, who after an excellent qualifying campaign were pipped to table leadership by Olazabal and Larrinaga. Either pair would have qualified for the final with a win here, but the erstwhile top partnership was smacked down with aplomb. They must now wait and try again on Sunday, when they face Rico IV and Untoria in a play off for the second final berth.

Rico IV and Untoria kept their hopes alive with an even more resounding win, over Urrutikoetxea and Otxandorena (the latter Iza’s stand-in) in an Vicente de la Sonsierra on Saturday. Urrutikoetxea has been put at a disadvantage ever since injury to Iza disrupted their progress, and has had to deal with two changes in partner. He and Otxandorena were no match for the Riojans here, losing 22-5. Their championship is now over. They do however have a chance to salvage some pride in their final match, the dead rubber against Jaunarena and Cecilio in Eibar on Sunday.

Urrutikoetxea is out

Urrutikoetxea is out