The Super Final got underway today in the old but recently renovated “Swimming Stadium” of Albaro, in Genova, (a sanctuary of Italian water polo), with the participation of the 10 teams, divided into two groups: Montenegro, Spain, USA, Italy and China in Group A; Australia, Egypt, Serbia, Greece and Canada in Group B.
The Men’s FINA World League 2008 distributes an overall prize money of US$ 512,500.
In the opening game Montenegro managed an easy win against Spain, whose team was filled with numerous young hopefuls (15-7). Janovic, Ivovic and Jokic were the best scorers, respectively with 5, 4 and 3 goals.
The second was a one way game, with Australia burying Egypt under an avalanche of 21 goals to none, and as many as eleven players scoring at least one goal. Figlioli top scored the game with 3.
In the third game, the mighty Serbia narrowly edged the young Greek side, 10-9. The experienced Serbian players seemed satisfied with lazily controlling the game. Business as usual for Aleksandar Sapic, top scorer with 5 goals (3 penalties).
The fourth and last game of the day, the United States versus Italy, was well fought. Both teams were almost at full ranks (except for Italy’s Luigi Di Costanzo, out for an injured hand finger – but he will play at the Olympics). They played in a crescendo that culminated in a thrilling final.
With the United States leading 10-9 and less than a minute to the conclusion of the game, Italy’s # 6, Maurizio Felugo, blasted a missile from outside that hit the bar and shook the goal; soon after with just 25.6 secs. to the end, Italy’s # 10, “Big”Alessandro Calcaterra, netted an irresistible goal from 2 metres, tying the game, 10-10. Calcaterra was the game’s best scorer with three goals.
The Americans reacted furiously but missed scoring the winning goal: Azevedo (who played in Italy for Cremona until Christmas 2007 and this season played with Yug of Belgrade) tried twice in final seconds: first his blaze was saved by Italy’s goalie Tempesti with just 4.5 secs. to the end; then, with less than a second to the final whistle, he hit the post.
Penalty shootouts took place soon after, with the USA shooting first. All players converted their penalties, until the fifth American, the same Azevedo, saw his throw saved by Tempesti, allowing the Italians for some celebrations of their 15-14 victory.
During the shootouts USA’s #13 Brandon Brooks replaced #1 Merrill Moses, who had played for the whole regular time.
Some USA players are familiar with Italian water polo, playing or having played for some Italian clubs; among them, beside Azevedo, there are Peter Varellas, Jeff Powers and Rick Merlo.
GAME 1 (A)
Montenegro-Spain 15-7 (6-3, 2-1; 3-2, 4-1)
Montenegro: Zdravko Radic, Drasko Brguljan 1, Vjeko Paskovic, Dandan Danilovic 1, Nikola Vukcevic, Milan Ticic, Mladan Janovic 5 (1 rig.), Srdan Barba, Aleksandar Ivovic 4 (1 pen.), Filip Trajkovic 1, Vladimir Gojkovic, Predrag Jokic 3 (1 pen.), Predrag Todorovic. Coach: Petar Porobic.
Spain: Victor Garcia, Adrian Sanz, Julen Artola, Eugenio De Grado, Eric Marsal, Alex Codina, Albert Espanyol 1 (pen.), Marc Roca, Eduardo Minguez, Fran Fernandez 1, Blai Mallarach 5, JoséRodriguez, Daniel Pinedo. Coach: Manolo Suarez.
Referees: Argyros (Gre) e Galkin (Rus).
Fina Delegate: Nico Firoiu (Ger).
Remarks - Exclusion for 3 major fouls Ticic (M) in the 3rd period and Danilovic (M) 4th period. Excluded for brutality Codina (S) 4th period. Extra-man goals: Montenegro 4/7, Spain 5/11.
GAME 2 (B)
Australia-Egypt 21-0 (4-0, 7-0; 3-0, 7-0)
Australia: Rafael Sterk, Richie Campbell 2, Trent Franklin 1, Pietro Figlioli 3, Rob Maitland 2, Anthony Martin 2, Tim Neesham 2, Sam McGregors 2, Thomas Whalan 2, Gavin Woods 2, John Cotterill 2, Janmie Beadsworth 1, Rhys Howden. All. John Fox
Egypt: Gemena, Salah, Mohamed, Ashraf, Abi Salem, Abbas, Elkordey, Moneer, Moharam, Assen, Sallam, Nasr, Hassan. All. Hakan Shahbaz
Referees: Angel Moliner (Spagna) e Hatem Adib (Tun).
Fina Delegate: Eugenio Martinez (Cuba).
Remarks - Extra-man goals: Australia 5/5, Egypt 0/2.
GAME 3 (B)
Serbia-Greece 10-9 (2-3, 6-5; 2-1, 0-0)
Serbia: Denis Sefik, Andrija Prlainovic 1, Zivko Gocic, Dusko Pijetlovic, Dejan Savic, Danilo Ikodinovic, Slobodan Nikic, Filip Filipovic 1, Aleksandar Ciric, Aleksandar Sapic 5 (3 pen.), Nikola Raden 1, Branko Pekovic 2, Slobodan Soro. Coach: Dejan Udovicic.
Greece: Konstantinos Flegkas, Vasileios Liotsakis, Georgios Katsoulakis 1, Nikitas Kocheilas 1, Evangelos Delakas 1, Georgios Papadopoulus 1, Fotios Blanis 4 (2 pen.), Alexandros Gounas, Georgios Katsaounis, Konstantinos Mourikis, Ioannis Beristianos 1, Matthaios Vougarakis, Christos Floros. Coach: Panagiotis Troulos.
Referees: Decio Patelli (Bra), Massimo Gomez (Ita).
Fina Delegate: John Whitehouse (Aus).
Remarks – Exclusion for 3 major fouls Gounas (G) and Katsaounis (G) in the 3rd period; Savic (S) in the 4th period. Extra-man goals: Serbia 4/7, Grecia 2/8.
GAME 4 (A)
United States – Italy 10-10 (2-3, 4-1;1-2, 3-4) after regular time; 14-15 after penalty shootouts
USA: Merrill Moses, Peter Varellas 2, Peter Hudnut, Jeff Powers 1, Adam Wright 2, Rick Merlo 2, Layne Beaubien, Tony Azevedo, Ryan Bailey 1, Tim Hutten 1, Jesse Smith 1, John Mann, Brandon Brooks. Coach: Terry Schroeder.
Italy: Stefano Tempesti, Christian Prosciutti 1, Leonardo Binchi 1, NiccolòGitto, Alex Giorgetti, Maurizio Felugo 2, Andrea Mangiante, Alberto Angelini 2, Fabio Bencivenga, Alessandro Calcaterra 3, Leonardo Sottani, Federico Mistrangelo, Valentino Gallo 1. Coach: Paolo Malara.
Goals on penalty shootouts. For the USA: Wright, Smith, Bailey, Hutten; for Italy: Bencivenga, Felugo, Angelini, Sottani, Gallo.
Referees: Boris Margeta (SLO), Gaetan Turcotte (CAN).
Fina Delegate: Eugenio Martinez.
Remarks - Extra-man goals: USA 6/11, Italy 5/11