Barceloneta did a clean job, beat Dinamo and kept the first place in Group A. The big game of Recco and Olympiacos turned into a thriller as the title-holders were trailing 3-7, but they turned the game with a 5-0 run and won 10-9, avoiding to repeat last year’s final against F8 host Novi Beograd already in the quarters.
Day 14, Group A: Pro Recco (ITA) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) 10-9, NC Vouliagmeni (GRE) v Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB) 9-10, Jadran Split (CRO) v Waspo98 Hannover (GER) 12-8, Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP) v Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) 13-6
Final rankings: 1. Barceloneta 39, 2. Recco 36, 3. Olympiacos 31, 4. Vouliagmeni 17, 5. Jadran 17, 6. Radnicki 15, 7. Dinamo 6, 8. Hannover 3
(Tie-breaker: Vouliagmeni v Jadran 10-10, 13-12)
Final 8 – Quarter-finals:
Barceloneta v Jug, Recco v Ferencvaros, Olympiacos v Novi Beograd, Vouliagmeni v Brescia
Playing with last year’s finalist Novi Beograd, in their home, or against bronze medallist Ferencvaros – this was at stake in the grand battle of Recco and Olympiacos. Both sides seemed to be really determined to win this game and for a while the Greeks’ plan worked really well. Deep into the third period they led 3-7 while Recco lacked everything which usually lift them above the others.
An emergency time-out helped, however, and all of a sudden everything changed. Recco needed five possessions around the middle break to erase the four-goal deficit while Olympiacos simply fall apart. They missed five man-ups in this phase and with 1:38 to go in the third, Matteo Iocchi’s action goal put Recco ahead at 8-7. The fight continued in the fourth and at last the Greeks could equalise to halt their scoreless run after painfully long 13:42 minutes. They could do it again with 2:15 to go for 9-9, then had a ball to retake the lead but the shot was missed.
The draw would have been enough for the Italians to remain second, but Francesco di Fulvio won them the game in a 6 on 5 to secure the second place and a re-match of last year’s semi-final against Hungarian champion Ferencvaros. In a mouth-watering clash, Olympiacos shall take on F8 host Novi Beograd – Igor Milanovic, now in charge of the Greeks, led the Serbs a year ago, to make this encounter even more interesting.
The other games didn’t have that much at stake – it was inevitable that Barceloneta would down Dinamo which the Spaniards did with ease to finish atop. Now they face Jug Dubrovnik – which shall be strange for CNAB’s coach Elvis Fatovic who was born in Dubrovnik and became a true icon of Jug.
The fourth F8 participant, Vouliagmeni couldn’t hold on against Radnicki and lost at home. Anyway, their berth had already been secured as the results against Jadran favoured them – even though a farewell win against Hannover put the newly crowned Croatian champions on level with the Greeks.
The Final Eight shall kick off on next Wednesday in Belgrade with the quarter-final day. For the first time, it’s going to be a four-day tournament as the semi-finalists will have a rest day before the final and the bronze medal match.