This is a current awareness blog that links to the latest sources of information on Basque Pelota matches and Tournaments. It covers both North and South Basque modalities: Mano, Main Nue, Pala, Paleta, Remonte, Cesta Punta, Jai Alai, and minor modalites. We link to match articles, statistics and video highlights and/or full match videos.
Friday, March 24, 2017
The interesting thing about the Sagardoaren is that it features far more "B" players from the Oriamendi2010 roster than any other tournament. In this year's tournament 8 of the 17 players featured either as regular participants or substitutes have been B players. 6 of the 8 teams originally scheduled were A-B pairs. Zeberio II has been replaced, due to injury, by last year's most valuable B tournament player Segurola, who won the tournament final (EITB) with Endika. So 7 of the 8 teams are A-B mixes Thus, the Sagardoaren can be seen as a preparatory tournament. And fans get to see B players under the tournament spotlight, rather than Game 1 or 4 of the usual Thursday-Saturday sessions.
This year, the first tournament match EITB broadcast was a League matchup between Etxeberria IV-Etxeberria III (the only all "A" team in the tournament) and Urriza-Azpiroz, winners of the most valuable and most promising player respectively for 2016 in both the Oriamendi 2010 and Euskal Jai Berri awards ceremonies.
March 18, 2017
Larre-Gain (Urriza-Azpiroz) defeated Gurutzeta (Etxeberria IV-Etxeberria III) 40-31 (the players of all the teams are sponsored by cider houses in this tournament).
Full match video (EITB)
Condensed linescore: (winners always listed 1st).
4-0; 4-2; 8-2; 8-4; 9-4; 9-5; 12-5; 12-6; 15-6; 15-8; 17-8; 17-9; 19-9; 19-10; 20-10; 20-12; 21-12; 21-14; 24-14; 24-16; 29-16; 29-21; 31-21; 31-23; 32-23; 32-24; 33-24; 33-26; 34-26; 34-27; 35-27; 35-28; 37-28; 37-31; 40-31
Scoring (source: Oriamendi2010 match article--note: individual scores do not add to total).
Urriza +18 -3; Azpiroz +15 (including 7 service aces) -3
Etxeberria IV +14* -9; Etxeberria III +11 (including 3 service aces) -0
*Estimated from the other scores
It was an "easy" win for U-A but not as easy as it seemed, as the linescore shows. What was interesting to me about this match was the contrast between the two back court men. Azpiroz is 22 years old and in his first year on the roster. Etxeberria III is old enough to be his father (43) but is still a formidable defensive back. I could talk a lot about their characteristics but two points from the match show everything you need to know. They both have all the shots and defensive abilities "in the book", with the exception of Azpiroz, who is still learning the rebote shot, one of, if not the most difficult in Remonte. He struggled with it mightily early but then started hitting it in this match. The two points to watch, which really featured the two defenders, are the consecutive points beginning at 10-5 and ending at 12-5 (14 minutes 35 seconds to 17:50 on the video). They were two of the longest points of the match, consuming 29 and 23 balls respectively.
In the first point, you will see almost all Azpiroz has to offer. He makes a defensive shot from his knees, hits a beautiful left wall shot, hits his first rebote (after badly missing 2 earlier), and plays a wonderful defensive shot pinned against the wall deep in the back. Urriza finally wins that point with a perfect high and slow two wall shot more reminiscent of Uterga or Ezkurra than the powerful shots he usually hits for winners.
In the second point you will see the guile, intelligence, and almost "casual" perfection of Etxeberria III's defense. That point features 2 consecutive rebotes easily executed, a defensive shot from the apron, and 3 great defensive shots while pinned against the left wall. This point was also eventually won by U-A on a more conventional Urriza rocket. Etxeberria III did everything during that point except pull out his magic behind the back rebote. For no reason relevant to this match, but because the shot is so amazing, here is a link to two of them that he executed during a match played with Etxeberria IV on January 7, 2017.
Behind the back rebote #1 (1:52:23--1:53:04 on the video).
Behind the back rebote #2 (1:57:17--1:57:45 on the video)
So there is what the Sagardoaren is in a nutshell. The old against the new, the A against the B, and experience against promise. It's a fascinating mix with a wonderful taste, just like the products its sponsors provide.