Day 14, Group A – Pro Recco (ITA) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) 10-9
Novi Beograd or Ferencvaros – at first sight, an easy choice, even though these two sides were medallists last season. NBG reached the final, finished runners-up after a shootout loss to Recco and are playing at home – so it was understandable that both sides were determined to win the game and avoid taking on the Serbs right on the opening day.
Playing in the sunset at the magnificent Ligurian coastline provided breathtaking settings to the big game of the last round – then the teams did their best to channel everyone’s attention towards the pool and they succeeded with that. Right away the first period saw eight goals and Olympiacos were the dominant force a bit surprisingly while taking a 3-5 lead. They were great in extras, netted four of those while killed a 6 on 4.
Hitting five goals in Recco in the first period is a great feat – and the Greeks went on, with 2:42 to go till the middle break they were already 3-7 up while denying Recco in two more man-downs. Sandro Sukno called for an emergency time-out and that helped. Recco hit two from action in a span of 41 seconds, then killed a man-down before the interval. As soon as the play resumed, Gonzalo Echenique kept his team rolling with two more action goals, in 39 seconds. Recco hit four from their last five possessions to erase the four-goal deficit. That completely derailed Olympiacos – the Greeks lost their composure, their man-up fell apart, missed three 6 on 5s in a row, and with 1:38 to go, Matteo Iocchi put Recco ahead for the first time in the match. Recco were in a 5-0 rush with five action goals, then Marco del Lungo made another big save to kill the Greeks’ 5th man-up.
This was a bit upsetting for sure – early in the fourth, Filip Filipovic was red carded, soon Andro Buslje gone with his third major foul, though Recco missed that chance to double their lead. An enormous battle ensued and finally Ioannis Fountoulis managed to halt Olympiacos’ painfully long scoreless run after 13:49 minutes, putting away an extra for 8-8.
Leftie Gergo Zalanki blasted a huge one from action to reply immediately, then the hosts had a 1:36min long possession with two man-ups, collected rebounds but again, they couldn’t expand their lead. On contrary, Dimitros Dimou put away another 6 on 5 to equalise once more and there were 2:15 minutes to play. A bit later Olympiacos had the ball to go ahead once again but they could not create real danger and soon Recco had the first match ball, a man-up with 1:09 to go. They made it after a time-out, Francesco di Fulvio’s fierce shot from the left wing bounced in from Marko Bijac’s hand and that won the game for Recco.
This kept the Italians in the second place, so they managed to avoid the replay of last year’s final against Novi Beograd in the quarters, instead they meet Ferencvaros while Olympiacos have to take on the hosts. Their head coach Igor Milanovic will have some information to share on their rivals as he was in charge at NBG last year.
How they saw it
Sandro Sukno, coach, Recco
At the time-out I told the guys that they must play as a team against such a great team as Olympiacos. It was a physical battle, it was demanding but I told them they could make if they play as a team. We won at the end, and this is what matters. Now comes the most important part, the Final Eight and we will be ready for that.
Igor Milanovic, coach, Olympiacos
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