Group A: CSA Steaua Bucharest (ROU) v Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) 8-11
In the company of 2021 and 2022 semi-finalist Brescia and Novi Beograd, runner-up of the last two editions, the realistic target for these two teams is to clinch the third place which guarantees a spot in the Euro Cup quarter-finals (while the bottom-ranked sides’ European journey finishes at the end of the group stage).
Sabadell, already with some CL experience and a couple of fine wins under its belt from last season, was the favourite. However, the hosts put up a good fight, scored an early goal, and defended well. It took the Spaniards five minutes to open their scoring account. A quick exchange of goals later made it 2-2 and Steaua took the lead once more from its first possession in the second period.
Nonetheless, the following minutes proved to be decisive as Sabadell hit two from action in 44 seconds. Even though they missed two man-ups opportunities, the Romanians also wasted theirs, and Kanstantin Averka’s fine action goal with 0:02 on the clock was a moral booster for the visiting side as they led 3-5 at halftime.
Fynn Schutze buried a penalty right away in the third quarter for 3-6 (it was a 0-4 run). Vlad Georgescu replied from the 5m line as well, but they couldn’t come closer. In the middle of this quarter, Averka finished off a counter, making it 4-7. The hosts netted 6 on 5s from back-to-back possessions but Sabadell always had the answer, again from action. Barroso hit one from the perimeter, then Averka scored another one from a counter to secure a three-goal lead for his team before the last break.
Barroso was also on fire, he scored the next two for Sabadell to expand the gap to four goals, though Victor Antipa pulled one back with 4:04 to go but that was the last goal of the game. The Romanians missed two more man-ups – a key for their loss as they were 4 for 14 in the game.
Comments from the coaches
Bogdan Rath, coach, Steaua
No English language interview
Quim Colet, coach, Sabadell
“At the beginning, we didn’t play well, our shots were not good. Then, as we started to do better in offense, we took control and our game improved a lot.”