Day 12, Group A – Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v NC Vouliagmeni (GRE) 9-14
Though Jadran caught up with Vouliagmeni in the ranks on Day 11, it was still inevitable that only the Greeks could screw this chance of making the F8 if they couldn’t deliver the expected wins. Like the one in Tbilisi.
It all started according to their plans, they jumped to a 0-2 lead, only to see Dinamo catching a wave and scoring three in a row still in the first period, including two inside the last 50 seconds to go 3-2 up. A killed man-down early in the second helped the Greeks to recover from the minor shock and soon they could equalise from action. Andrija Vlahovic netted his second though for 4-3, then came Dimitrios Nikolaidis with two goals from the centre in 1:40 minutes and that put Vouliagmeni back on track. Two more blasts from the perimeter, the second one with 0:04 on the clock, gave them a calming 4-7 lead and that was all the Greeks needed.
Though Dinamo pulled one back in the third, great defending helped Vouliagmeni to survive minor scares – they shut their rivals out for four more minutes, added two goals in that phase to make it 5-9. Giorgi Magrakvelidze was on fire, though, he netted two to halve the distance and to give Dinamo some hope for the final period. But the Greeks claimed a penalty in the dying seconds of their first possession and buried it for 7-10, then Nikolaidis scored two more from action, and at 7-12 it was all over, though there were five more minutes to play. Back-to-back exchanges of goals closed the party – fittingly, Nikolaidis hit his fifth goal, again from the centre, and the Greeks also denied Dinamo in a 6 on 4 and in another man-down to bag these crucial points.
Now the Greeks need one more win to book their spot in the Final Eight – if they need that at all as their direct rival Jadran travel to Recco in the next round (the Greeks visit Barceloneta) and Recco’s predictable win over the Croats would seal Vouliagmeni’s F8 berth, before Day 14 would commence.