Brescia goes to Belgrade, FTC is set to join at the expense of Olympiacos
Olympiacos, which made the final three times between 2016 and 2019, may miss the Final Eight for the first time since 2015 as 2019 winner and last season’s runner-up Ferencvaros upended them in Piraeus – thanks to the out-of-Earth performance of its goalkeeper Soma Vogel. An easy win confirmed Brescia as the first side to book its spot in Belgrade from Group A (besides host Novi Beograd) and Barceloneta is also on its way to return to the big stage.
Group A: Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) 8-10, Zodiac Atletic Barceloneta (ESP) v Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) 18-4, AN Brescia (ITA) v Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB) 12- 8. Friday: Novi Beograd (SRB) v Jadran Split (CRO) 14-7.
Standings: 1. Brescia 29, 2. Novi Beograd 23, 3. Barceloneta 23, 4. Ferencvaros 22, 4. Olympiacos 19, 6. Radnicki 13, 7. Jadran 9, 8. Dinamo 0
In the rematch of the 2019 final, Ferencvaros stunned Olympiacos and that may have disastrous consequences for the Greeks who are now set to miss the top flight for the first time since 2015. The Hungarians bounced back from their back-to-back defeats in March and after having beaten Novi Beograd ten days ago, they now upended Olympiacos in Piraeus with a commanding performance.
The Greek supporters created a fantastic atmosphere, just like last weekend, but it seems that the men team will not follow the triumphant women’s side which had won the Euro League title last Sunday in the same pool.
The game was a man-up-man-down contest for almost three periods but in the third the Magyars started scoring from action, and from 5-4 down they rushed to a 6-9 lead by the end of the quarter. The Greeks climbed back to 8-9 with 58 seconds to go but another action goal decided the outcome (the hosts could score only from 6 on 5s). In fact, it was Ferencvaros’ defence which made the real difference, especially goalie Soma Vogel who posted an amazing 15 saves, finished the game with 65.5% – while Olympiacos’ Croatian goalie Marko Bijac was substituted after three periods where he had only 4 stops. Now Ferencvaros needs one win from its last two home matches (against Radnicki or Brescia), while Olympiacos must bring down Novi Beograd before travelling to Tbilisi, but that last match may not have any impact at the end.
Brescia and Barceloneta delivered at their respective home encounters. By sinking Radnicki with a convincing performance, Brescia is now officially confirmed as a Final Eight participant – though to finish atop they may need one more point and that’s still a challenge as their last two clashes are due in Barceloneta and Budapest.
The Spaniards maintained their winning streak as they thrashed Dinamo by staging a 8-0 rout in the second half and they already led 10-4 by then. Novi Belgrade did something similar on Friday against Jadran, won the last 14 minutes 7-0 after 7-7 – the Serbs and the Spaniards still have a mathematical chance to catch up Brescia.
Olympiacos v FTC 8-10
It turned out early that in this game goals would be extremely valuable. The first period saw only one apiece, Ferencvaros put away its first man-up from the 2m line, the Greeks needed 7:02 minutes to hit first – after minutes of hard fight Ioannis Fountoulis, already without a cap, finally beat Soma Vogel (with whom he was team-mates in the previous three years).
In the second the trend continued: defences barely let any shooting chances, only 6 on 5s offered scoring opportunities and the teams used those relatively well. Olympiacos missed one but later scored from the second in the same possession. The Hungarians responded immediately, again from the 2m line and later Denes Varga sent the ball home from the left wing to retake the lead. It didn’t last long as Konstantinos Genidounias scored in the last second of their next man-up for 3-3. It was the Magyars’ turn and they finished off their extra from 2m for the third time – but Fountoulis was on target again for 4-4.
Ferencvaros opened the third with a missed extra and Filip Filipovic let the ball fly for the first time in the game, it hit the back of the net – this was the 5th man-up goal from the Greeks. Their rivals missed another extra but after the corner Vendel Vigvari scored the first action goal from the back to make it
even again. Vogel denied Filipovic in a man-down and Denes Varga’s pinpoint shot – again from action – put FTC ahead once more. The Greeks got another man-up, Filipovic wasn’t guarded as closely as in the first half and for him this was an easy hit. Vigvari kept his calm after a time-out and didn’t leave any chance for Bijac from the next extra while Kolomvos hit the crossbar from the centre. Varga stole the ball in a man-down brilliantly and young Erik Molnar finished off the counter – the gap jumped to two and Vogel came up with two huge saves in the next man-down to keep the distance. Soon it was three as Vigvari netted his third 11 seconds from time for 6-9 – it looked quite promising for the Hungarians with one period remaining.
The Greeks tried to score from action in vain, either Vogel or the woodwork denied them. Their problems were mounting when even their man-up let them down, after a time-out they had two shots but the block, then Vogel stopped them. Ferencvaros just focused on the defence, didn’t take any risk in front – and that worked. Vogel produced his 15th save and Ferencvaros could keep the ball for almost a minute. When Kolomvos could tip in the ball from a man-up for 7-9, 2:09 minutes were left in the clock. The Greeks regained possession and got another extra and after a rebound Filipovic’s blast did the damage – with 58 seconds to go it was 8-9 and the local crowd went wild. But hopes soon gone as Marton Vamos ended the contest with a fine lefthanded rocket from the perimeter – another action goal, something the Greeks were unable to score in the entire game. A bit of irony: Vamos is reported to join Olympiacos for the next season – this goal may have ended his future employer’s hopes to make the Final Eight.
Sometimes less is more, this was another lesson the game offered: Olympiacos outshot Ferencvaros 32- 23 – but the goalies made the difference: the host guys had 6 stops combined (Bijac was substituted before the last period), while Vogel had 15 and posted a 65.5% saving percentage, giving his side the winning edge.
Brescia v Radnicki 12-8
The Italian job was as clean as it could get. They pushed hard in the first half, played with the necessary focus especially in defence and after gaining a 4-2 lead, then shut out the Serbs in the entire second period and kept it going in the third until 9-3. The scoreless run lasted 12:52 minutes for Radnicki but it was perhaps more telling that the Serbs could hit only one in 16:30 minutes – during that phase Brescia jumped from 3-2 to 9-3.
After that the Italians’ concentration dropped a bit in the back, the visitors could shape the scoreline to a bit friendlier one – after netting four in three periods, they managed to add four more in the last one alone. Still, Brescia bagged three more points and leads the group by six with two rounds to go.
Barceloneta v Dinamo 18-4
The Georgians hoped for a less one-sided contest than they had on Day 3 in Tbilisi when they lost 7-20 to Barceloneta. Well, this one did not unfold in a different way either. Dinamo could hold on for a quarter or so as they trailed 3-2 after eight minutes but the Spaniards opened the second with a double in 41 seconds and that put the writing on the wall. They scored seven in this period and led 10-4 at halftime.
Then the second half was even more lopsided as Dinamo was unable to score a single goal while Barceloneta added eight more – to handle another KO to the bottom-ranked side. Alberto Munarriz was the driving force in front, he scored 7 goals. The number of shots also told the story: the total was 33-23 but those on target showed the real difference: 26-13.