Holding Jug 0 for 7 in man-ups, FTC sail away in the second half

Group B, Day 4 – FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) v Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) 9-7

The hosts opened the game with an almost perfect first period – the defence did their utmost and had four blocks in six minutes. Since first-pick goalie Soma Vogel was sidelined with Covid, the players tried to offer as much support to their young goalie David Szakonyi as possible – and in front, at least for a while, it wasn’t felt that captain Denes Varga also had to skip this game. With the defence on top, they stormed to a 3-0 lead before conceding the first as Filip Krzic could finally make a man-up from the 2m line (after missing two), with 58 seconds to go.

The first problems for the home side came towards the end of the period when they missed their first extra and went on wasting another one early in the second, while Jug settled and with two man-up goals in 32 seconds they equalised for 3-3. They seemed to take total control as they added two more, Konstantinos Kakaris scored from the centre and Matias Biljaka sent the ball home from a man-up. Jug was in a 0-5 run, but the Hungarians hit back before the break – Adam Nagy blasted one from an extra (the first in 8:30 minutes) and Stylianos Argyropoulos hit another one 5 seconds from time for 5-5.

The third brought an even bigger fight – it was four minutes of extreme battling, with one denied man-downs at both ends, before Argyropoulos scored another one from a 6 on 5 against his former team. Szakonyi made a huge save in Jug’s next man-up, the host launched a counter, but the assist wasn’t the best, Jug turned back, and Marko Zuvela equalised. Jug had two more man-ups till the break, but the post, then a block saved the Magyars.

And that hit back in the fourth as young Erik Molnar’s brilliant bouncer from the perimeter put the hosts ahead once more, and in 58 seconds it was 8-6 when Szilard Jansik buried their first extra in the fourth. The Croats went on struggling their 6 on 5, wasted two more, the blocking arms denied them again and again (FTC had 9 blocks altogether, a winning number in any game).

Though Kakaris could pull one back from the centre with 3:33 to go, Nemanja Ubovic also did brilliantly in front, in 19 seconds he killed Jug’s momentum to make it 9-7. And in fact, the Croats couldn’t score any more. They had one more man-up but missed that too – all in all, FTC held them 0 on 7 in the second half, and while conceding four in the second period, they limited Jug to a single goal in the third and fourth respectively, to win this crucial match. Since Marseille and OSC gained their first victories too, the pressure from the back is growing towards the top sides, Jug have been even dropped to the fifth place now.

How they saw it

Zsolt Varga, coach, Ferencvaros

“This was a special game because of Vjekoslav Kobescak, he is like my brother, since we played together in Mladost for years. And Jug played really well in certain periods of the game, but my team also delivered a great performance. We had some issues with sickness this morning, but I know that Jug also missed (Loren) Fatovic – this is the last day of the season, everyone is worn out, so illness is something all of us have to cope with in these days. All’s said, I’m so happy to win today. We played hard pressing and we did it really well, they got tired for the last one and a half periods, and this was our target. For example, to tire out (Maro) Jokovic who was tremendous in the last two matches, but he also lost some energy this evening and wasn’t as effective as in the previous rounds.”

Vjekoslav Kobescak, coach, Jug

“We started really bad, our defence, our choices in attack were all really bad. Then in the second we found our game and I’d say even the third period was fine. For the fourth, we lost our energy. There were a lot of mistakes, we could have scored more in the second half but we missed those chances. Still, it’s just the beginning of the group stage, we have more games to play. At this moment I’m not thrilled, but I can say I’m satisfied with our season so far.”