Tag Archives: Penagarikano

Olaizola II and Beroiz take an historic clean sweep

Friday 23rd March, Urretxu


Before the 2012 Pairs Championship began, any commentator you care to mention had Aimar Olaizola and Mikel Beroiz down as the favourites alongside Juan Martinez de Irujo and Abel Barriola. While Irujo and Barriola have faltered as the tournament has progressed, losing half their matches, Olaizola and Beroiz have been staggering. Right from their opening win in Sestao over Berasaluze VIII and Albisu, they have looked unbeatable, and so they have since proved in winning an unprecedented fourteen from fourteen on their way to the semi finals. The next best pair, Titin III and Merino II has won only eight from fourteen. Many of their matches have been extremely one sided; they have never been pushed closer than 22-18 and finished with a points difference of +131. The next most efficient team was Berasaluze VIII-Albisu on +36. Every time they were threatened, they summoned from somewhere an extra gear which nobody else could match. Cold, clinical, spectacular.

Olaizola and Beroiz’s domination

Week Location Opponents Score
1 Sestao Berasaluze VIII-Albisu 22-10
2 Tolosa Arretxe II-Begino 22-5
3 Bilbao Titin III-Merino II 22-15
4 Pamplona Bengoetxea VI-Apraiz 22-9
5 Bilbao Martinez de Irujo-Barriola 22-15
6 Hendaye Xala-Laskurain 22-17
7 Pamplona Aritz Lasa-Pascual* 14-9*
8 Barcelona Berasaluze VIII-Albisu 22-10
9 Tolosa Arretxe II-Begino 22-11
10 Bilbao Gonzalez*-Barriola 22-18
11 Logrono Titin III-Merino II 22-16
12 Pamplona Bengoetxea VI-Apraiz 22-12
13 Vitoria-Gasteiz Xala-Laskurain 22-13
14 Urretxu Aritz Lasa-Penagarikano* 22-17

Key to their success so far has been the unbreakable purple patch of Aimar Olaizola. The great forward has lost only two matches from his last thirty and has obliterated the best in the game time and time again with his brutal strength and tactical mastery. When the ball goes to his left hand and he has room to play with out wide, the best his rivals can do is to pray that he misses, and he misses very seldom indeed. Allied to Olaizola’s wealth of experience and big match mentality has been Beroiz, the anchor from Huarte. It is easy to forget that the defender is only 22 years old, so impressive is his command at the back of the fronton. His accuracy and relentlessness wear his opponents down, his long range hitting is superb and his head is as balanced as they come.

For this, their last game in the round robin phase, Beroiz was replaced by Oier Mendizabal, with whom Aimar won the Pairs title in 2008. Even with Mendizabal, whose form of late has been anything but notable, Aimar’s pair went into this as the overwhelming favourites. This championship has been a torrid one for the pair of Aritz Lasa. Many were surprised at the inclusion of Lasa in the competition at the very start and some, such as Gonzalez, who felt he had been slighted, were downright angry. The likeable forward, here playing in his home town of Urretxu, has had spells of form surrounded by longer periods of indifference and his cause has not been helped by the ongoing injury problems of original partner Aitor Zubieta. Zubieta, champion with Xala in 2010, only played seven of the fourteen games due to hand pain, and clearly struggled when he did take to the fronton. Lasa at various times had to play with Pascual and Penagarikano and thus the partnership was never a settled one. Despite their underdog status on Friday, Lasa and Penagarikano took the fight to the table toppers and pushed them harder than anyone could have envisaged. The closeness of the score was due in part to the rather careless early play of Olaizola, who appeared to think extending himself would be unnecessary. Mixed with the brilliance we have come to expect were a handful of errors which could have been avoided with a little more attention. Mendizabal is not currently in the league of Beroiz and as he faltered on one too many occasions, Olaizola raised his game, ending with fourteen winners to five errors. Lasa’s figures of seven to eight reflect the frustrations of a player who despite his best efforts was cramped by his forward rival and was pushed into uncomfortable positions time and again. Penagarikano had the best of the defensive battle, but Mendizabal’s inconsistency was obviated by Olaizola.

Fourteen from fourteen in the qualifying stages is a record of which Olaiziola and Beroiz can and should be extremely proud. However, they cannot afford to be complacent for a moment. Any one of the other three combinations who have made the semi finals is capable of beating anyone on their day and they must therefore continue to take due care to maintain both their level and their focus. Looking back over the past three months however, it is exceedingly hard to see how anyone can get past them, so devastating is their finishing power. Their rivals for the crown have little time to ponder tactics; Berasaluze and Albisu are first into the fray, taking on the invincibles this Saturday at Bizakaia.

Promocion Championship Results: week nine

Friday 2nd March, Mutliva: SARALEGI* – ARETXABALETA beat MENDIZABAL III – PENAGARIKANO* to gain their third point of the competition. It is likely too little too late however for Aretxabaleta and his injured regular partner Lemuno.

Saturday 3rd March, Pamplona: OLAZABAL – LARRINAGA beat TAINTA – IBAI ZABALA* 22-12 and as a result, draw level with Jaunarena and Cecilio at the top of the table. They are second on points difference. Tainta and usual partner Argote remain down and out.

Sunday 4th March, Logrono: RICO IV – UNTORIA beat JAUNARENA – CECILIO 22-19 in an unlikely slip up for the top pair. They remain in first place, but will have to be on guard from the host of couples waiting in the wings.

The scheduled match in Amorebieta between URRUTIKOETXEA – IZA and  GORKA – ARRUTI, both very much in the running for a semi-final place, was postponed as both Urrutikoetxea and Iza are injured.








JAUNARENA – CECILIO 9 7 185 136 49
OLAZABAL – LARRINAGA 9 7 180 137 43
URRUTIKOETXEA – IZA 8 5 152 138 14
RICO IV – UNTORIA 9 5 171 174 -3
GORKA – ARRUTI 8 4 148 140 8
LEMUNO – ARETXABALETA 9 3 154 174 -20
MENDIZABAL III – L.GALARZA 9 3 142 180 -38
TAINTA – ARGOTE 9 1 134 187 -53

Berasaluze saves the blushes of Albisu as rivals fall away

Sunday 26th February, Eibar


Pairs Championship

It looked to all the world as if Aritz Lasa and Penagarikano were going to take the win they so badly needed at Astelena last night. Lasa was playing excellently, with accuracy and real verve, and Albisu appeared trapped in a sequence of inaccuracy and self-doubt. The Aspe pair led comfortably from the off and although their opponents came back at them, they held them at bay. However, keeping Pablo Berasaluze down is never simple and just when the situation was becoming critical for his team, he produced the goods to maintain their qualification chances. Meanwhile, the afflicted Aitor Zubieta could only sit in the stands and watch as his proxy, Penagarikano, felt the heat and let everything slip.

Albisu was the culprit in the red pair’s early demise. In the second play of the match he left a long, spiralling ball from Lasa which looked to be going wide. When it fell in, his face was a picture of consternation. He then went on to miscue the ball three times in a row and before anyone had had time to blink, it was 0-5. Berasaluze and Albisu gradually pulled points back, and the latter did well to bomb Penagarikano into submission to get them off the mark. Berasaluze showed himself able to turn on the style when needed, and produced a whirlwind period of play between 7-12 and 12-13 to bring his pair right back into touch. When on 4-10, Albisu threw away a golden position in going high trying to get the ball over his opponent’s head, Berasaluze seized the serve back with a gantxo. When Lasa exerted excellent control to take the score to 6-12, Berasaluze jumped back in with two winners in a row. Albisu played his part with a long ball which trapped Penagarikano against the back wall but when he faltered in the next point, Berasaluze again rescued the momentum with a hat trick of winners. With a gap of only one point, the match had taken on a very different complexion and this was down almost entirely to the tenacity of the man from Berriz.

Lasa and Penagarikano stopped the rot and extended their advantage to four again at 12-16, but sensing the situation was now very dangerous, Berasaluze moved again. Penagarikano had hitherto played very well indeed but as Berasaluze turned the screw, he faltered, committing a string of errors right at the death. There was little Lasa could do to rescue him in the face of his opposite number, who took all the pressure off his ailing defensive partner and deposited it elsewhere. This was an opportunity too good to miss for the Aspe pair to secure a crucial win, with Lasa on song and Albisu out of form. It is to Berasaluze’s credit that they failed to drive it home.

Scoring sequence: 0-5, 1-5, 1-7, 2-7, 4-7, 4-11, 6-11, 6-12, 9-12, 9-13, 10-13, 12-13, 12-16, 16-16, 16-17, 17-17, 21-17, 21-18, 22-18.

Winners/errors: Berasaluze 13/2, Lasa 7/0, Albisu 5/8, Penagarikano ¼

Match time: 1:04.43 with 21:49 of actual play

Balls hit: 414

Olaizola II-Beroiz officially semi-finalists, Aritz Lasa-Penagarikano and Xala-Laskurain victorious

Saturday 18th February, Pamplona: XALA-LASKURAIN beat GONZALEZ*-BARRIOLA 22-13

Sebastien Gonzalez entered the fray at Labrit on Saturday thanks to Juan Martinez de Irujo contracting mumps, an ailment which will also keep him out of the showdown with Olaizola II and Beroiz this coming weekend. Gonzalez, to his credit, acquitted himself extremely well, perhaps in an effort to prove that he should have been in the tournament in the first place, producing a tally of ten winners. However, he was up against a Xala in inspired form. His fellow French Basque hit thirteen winners to only one error, and together with the impressive solidity of Laskurain this was more than enough to get them over the line for their fourth win. Barriola, although on paper reliable, was pressured by Laskurain and ultimately outplayed. Irujo and Barriola appeared dead certs to make the semi finals in the first few rotations, but now they will have to watch their backs; they are still second but are level on points with three other pairs, including Xala and Laskurain.

Scoring sequence: 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-4, 4-4, 4-6, 7-6, 7-7, 12-7, 12-10, 16-10, 16-13, 22-13

Winners/errors: Xala 13/3, Gonzalez 10/5, Laskurain 1/1, Barriola 0/2

Aritz Laskurain played an excellent match

Aritz Laskurain played an excellent match

Monday 20th February, Tolosa: ARITZ LASA-PENAGARIKANO* beat TITIN III-MERINO II 22-15

Monday’s match in Tolosa also featured an injury substitution, with Kepa Penagarikano coming in for Aitor Zubieta, the state of whose hands force him to take a break. Penagarikano, though without the reputation of the former champion, filled his shoes admirably and outplayed David Merino who was unable to overcome his stranglehold. At the front, Aritz Lasa started slowly, allowing the Riojans to take the early lead, but as the game progressed his confidence rocketed. He showed Titin little respect and stuck to his own game with some resolve. Once their lead had been established at 10-6, there was no looking back for the underdogs who played on a different level from their opponents. This win was essential and they will need more in order to stand any chance of progressing. With Zubieta out for another two weeks at least, Aspe will hope that Penagarikano can hold his form and Lasa maintain the consistency he has at times so badly lacked. The victors remain seventh, while Titin and Merino slip one place to fourth.

Scoring sequence: 3-0, 3-2, 4-2, 4-3, 5-3, 5-5, 6-6, 6-10, 6-14, 12-16, 12-17, 13-17, 13-21, 15-21, 15-22.

Tuesday 21st February, Tolosa: OLAIZOLA II-BEROIZ beat ARRETXE II-BEGINO 22-11

There was no surprise whatsoever in this result, apart perhaps from the fact that Iker Arretxe and Aritz Begino scored as many points as they did. That they were still in the match at 10-13 was down largely to the play of Begino, but once Aimar Olaizola nudged up a gear, the table’s bottom pair had no answer. The star forward was the player of the match, and with the metronomic support of Beroiz, barely had to extend himself. Nine wins from Nine means that Olaizola and Beroiz are assured of a place in the last four. Whoever joins them will have to think long and hard about how they can be undone.

Scoring sequence: 5-0, 8-2, 12-5, 12-9, 13-10, 19-10, 22-11.

This week’s results mean that the table, with five rounds to go, looks like this:

1 OLAIZOLA II – BEROIZ    9   9   +97
2 MTZ de IRUJO – BARRIOLA   9   5   +25
3 XALA – LASKURAIN      9   5   +13
4 TITIN III – MERINO II     9   5    +8
5 BENGOETXEA VI – APRAIZ   9   5   -4
6 BERASALUZE VIII – ALBISU   9   4    +7
7 ARITZ LASA – ZUBIETA   9   3     -31
8 ARRETXE II – BEGINO    9   0   -114

Photo: mine

New players, new contracts, and departures at Asegarce

Asegarce have announced the signing of two new pelotaris, Iker Tainta (Barañaian-Navarra) and Alvaro Untoria (Nájera-La Rioja). Tainta plays his first match on 25th June in Pamplona, while Untoria will make his debut on 2nd July in his home town.

Meanwhile, Arretxe II has re-signed with the empresa for the next two years, and Oteiza has renewed for six months. Penagarikano, whose contract is about to run out, is still in talks.

Three players will not have their contracts renewed. Aratz Mendizabal leaves after eight years with the empresa. In that time he won the second tier championships in both Pairs (2005) and 4 1/2 (2006). Inigo Diaz, second tier 4 1/2 champion in 2007, leaves after six years. The Asegarce bosses are reportedly unhappy with his progress since his debut in 2005. Inaki Eskudero also moves on. He made his debut in 2003, and was runner up in the second tier pairs championship in 2005, 2008 and 2010. He will remain active, joining Garfe 11, where he will play alongside the likes of Koka, Capellán, Mikel Goñi, Fernando Goñi, Eugi and Eulate.