4 1/2: Gonzalez completes ASPE clean sweep as Pablito falls to injury by frontonnews
November 3, 2009, 9:53 pm
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Monday 2nd November, Beotibar, Tolosa

GONZALEZ beat BERASALUZE VIII 16-10 (match abandoned)

Sebastian Gonzalez yesterday booked his place in the Cuatro y Medio semi finals when Pablo Berasaluze sprained his ankle with the score at 16-10 in his favour. Up until that point, it had been a game full of quality in which Berasaluze had fought back from early problems before Gonzalez increased the pace and with it his scoreline. Berasalzue attempted to continue after his untimely injury, his ankle strapped, but could not and retired to warm applause.

Gonzalez therefore completes the all-ASPE semi final quartet, which is completed by Juan Martinez de Irujo, Titin III and Julen Retegi. The semi final round robin commences this weekend: Gonzalez and Irujo play in Zarautz on Saturday while Titin and Retegi play in Eibar on Sunday.

Source: Asegarce

Pablito: down and out

Image from: El Correo Digital



Virgen Blanco Final: Xala and Goni III weather the storm at Ogueta by frontonnews
August 9, 2009, 8:50 pm
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Sunday 9th August
Ogueta, Vitoria-Gasteiz
XALA – GOÑI III beat BERASALUZE VIII – MENDIZABAL II 22-17

Battles locked in attritional stalemate are wont to turn with sudden and brutal force. On 21st June 1813, Joseph Bonaparte found this to his cost as his French defences crumbled at the hands of Arthur Wellesley at the Battle of Vitoria, signalling a virtual British victory in the Peninsula War. Today another battle was fought in Vitoria, which though less deadly in a literal sense, followed a similar pattern. For an hour or more, four of the best pelotaris the Basque Country has to offer flew at each other hammer and tongs until one side cracked. For Bonaparte read Mendizabal and for Wellesley read Xala, who in an ironic twist, if our metaphor is to be played out, hails from the French side of the Pyrenees. In a match of searing quality, it was the forward from Lekuine who turned the tide.

Vitoria-Gasteiz, 1813

Vitoria-Gasteiz, 1813

Both partnerships had won their respective semi finals with consummate ease and happily for the enthusiastic but not overly large crowd at Ogueta, all four players carried their excellent form forward to the showpiece match. Matters began in whirlwind fashion with Pablo Berasaluze unleashing a txoko and two hooks to stamp his authority. Xala could only stand by and admire. However, if this early dominance by the pocket dynamo from Berriz appeared total, his rivals had other ideas as from 0-3 down, Xala produced two hooks and a devastating smash on his way to a 4-3 lead. And so the battle proceeded, neither side ceding a significant advantage for point after point. Berasaluze and Mendizabal perhaps held the marginal upper hand for the majority of the game, but only by a proverbial hair’s breadth. Berasaluze in particular displayed white hot form. The Asegarce forward is nothing if not a fighter and time and again he rescued points when all seemed lost. On several occasions, he dug out what should rightfully have been txoko winners from Xala and turned defeat into victory. Focussed and indefatigable, he threw himself in all directions, even finding the energy to encourage his partner mid point, all taut muscles and pumped fists. Particularly extraordinary was his return of Xala’s hook in the point which took his pair’s lead to 10-6 and his stinging airez following a brief but vicious forward battle at 13-11. Oier Mendizabal too played his part, managing some towering returns from Xala’s considerable serve and showing tremendous willingness and skill in coming forward to cover for Berasaluze when it was required.

The scores drifted upwards in the favour of the pair in red but Xala and Goni were always in comfortable touching distance with the gap never growing beyond four points as the tally moved from 4-4 to 16-15. In style, Xala and Berasaluze are chalk and cheese. Berasaluze appears to play on pure adrenaline and desire, but Xala’s more measured, almost brooding approach is no less effective. Despite a pair of faltas, he served clinically, inducing two consecutive errors from Mendizabal, which brought the score to 7-6. His tactical intelligence led to perfect placement in the three points which brought his pair to parity at 11-11, two txoko winners and a whipped crosscourt volley leaving an out of position Berasaluze with no chance. Goni, as he was in the semi final and as he has been almost all year, was extremely solid. He was also marginally less error prone than Mendizabal, and proved once again the perfect partner in a battle where no inch can be lost.

Despite this near stalemate, the feeling persisted that the Asegarce partnership would come through, such was the firepower of Berasaluze. However, as with military warfare, one seminal moment is often all it takes for well founded conviction to be blown out of the water, and so it was when Xala stepped forward to serve with the score at 17-17. He had hinted at his growing confidence with a devastating dosparedes winner in the previous point and he now produced two long dipping serves just as required. Mendizabal swung and struck but could not make good contact. Twice he tried and twice he failed. All of a sudden, the ASPE pair was ahead for the first time since the score stood at 4-3. Mendizabal’s double failure triggered meltdown for the duo in red; Berasaluze hit wide and Mendizabal mishit completely before Xala caught him napping with an innocuous looking txoko while he loitered far too far back. When Beraslauze hit low the game was up. As the curtain fell on this modern Battle of Vitoria, blue was the colour of victory.

Vitoria-Gasteiz, 2009

Vitoria-Gasteiz, 2009

Scoring sequence: 1-0, 3-0, 3-1, 3-4, 4-4, 7-4, 7-5, 7-6, 8-6, 10-6, 10-7, 10-8, 11-8, 11-11, 13-11, 13-12, 14-12, 14-13, 15-13, 15-14, 16-14, 16-15, 17-15, 17-16 and 17-22.



Virgen Blanco Semi Final: Pablito and Oier finalists at Ogueta by frontonnews

Friday 7th August
Ogueta, Vitoria-Gasteiz
BERASALUZE VIII – MENDIZABAL II beat TITIN III – PASCUAL 22-10

The second semi final of the Torneo Virgen Blanco was significantly better attended than the first, in which only about 500 of 2155 seats were filled. Friday, in contrast, brought a near full house of enthusiastic fans who appeared torn in terms of allegiance between the master Titin and ‘Pablito’ Berasaluze, the terrier from Berriz. In the final analysis, it was the fans of the latter who left satisfied; Berasaluze produced a trademark performance of tenacity and drive, belying once again his small stature. Titin looked a shadow of the man we know he can be and it was only when the victory was as good as in the bag for the Asegarce pair that he showed any kind of convincing fight. Berasaluze in contrast chanced his arm and succeeded, bringing off some stunning hooks and returning everything his opponents could throw at him. In defence, Inigo Pascual seemed oddly off colour and never truly found his range. Oier Mendizabal, conversely, was at his metronomic best, the perfect bedrock for the attacking instinct of his partner.

The Asegarce victory here means that the final will be an inter-empresa affair; Berasaluze and Mendizabal will play Xala and Goni III of ASPE for the Virgen Blanco crown on Sunday. Catch it on ETB-Sat at 17:55 (CEST).

Mendizabal II: eye on the ball

Mendizabal II: eye on the ball



2nd Division Manomanista Final: classy rookie Beroiz takes the title by frontonnews

Saturday 23rd May
Beotibar, Tolosa
BEROIZ beat ARGOTE 22-13

Mikel Beroiz has been a professional pelotari for all of nine months but yesterday the 19 year old from Navarre defeated Jokin Argote to lift the second division manomanista title in commanding style. Beroiz carried the slightly shorter odds going into the final but to beat a man five years his senior in his first major final, at this stage in his nascent career, is a significant achievement. The enthusiastic crowd at Beotibar was treated to an enthralling match in which both players displayed classic shot making prowess but it was the exciting youngster who brought the greater power to bear.

For the first half of the encounter, the pelotaris were deadlocked, reaching 6-6 and 8-8 after a sprightly start from Argote had netted him an early lead. Beroiz then advanced to 13-8 and had seemingly cut himself free, but once again the scores were levelled at 13-13. However, Beroiz now demonstrated his physical prowess, and after a total of eight service winners in a match lasting 55 minutes and 221 strikes of the ball, the young pretender was crowned. Argote began well and took the game to his opponent in the early stages but it was the strength of Beroiz, his violence in attack and his clever use of the walls which saw him through. Remember the name, for we will hear much more of Mikel Beroiz.

Source: El Correo

Victory for Mikel Beroiz

Victory for Mikel Beroiz

Other news

Earlier in the evening, the fans were treated to a high quality doubles match between Manomanista finalist Juan Martinez de Irujo and Asier Arruti, and Asier Olaizola and Oier Mendizabal. For Irujo this was a chance to maintain his barnstorming form of late as he prepares for his showdown with either Aimar Olaizola or Ruben Beloki on June 7th. However, things did not quite go to plan for him as Olaizola senior and Mendizabal took the win by a solitary point. Losing Manomanista semi finalist and defending champion Oinatz Bengoetxea also went down by one point; at the Mañaria Festival, he and Alexis Apraiz lost to Pablo Berasaluze and Oier Zearra by 22 points to 21. Meanwhile, in the headline match at the Arbizu Festival, Titin III and Zubieta beat Gonzalez and Lasa III 22-15.

Olaizola I took on Irujo and won

Olaizola I took on Irujo and won



Mano pairs: Irujo and Goni win the dead rubber and head to the final in style by frontonnews
March 16, 2009, 1:59 pm
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Saturday 14th March
Labrit, Pamplona
MARTINEZ DE IRUJO – GONI III beat BERASALUZE VIII – BEGINO 22-15

Juan Martinez de Irujo and Fernando Goni have completed a clean sweep in the semi finals by defeating Pablo Berasaluze and Aritz Begino at Labrit. The victors had already claimed their place in the final on 29th March but served to bolster both their confidence and their status as probable favourites. For the losers, this was their chance to leave the competition with their heads held high; instead, the pair who have illuminated this competition on more than one occasion finish bottom of the last four.

In a game where both forwards played with spirit in attack and competitive determination, it appeared as if the Asegarce pair would fold in all too dramatic fashion, finding themselves down 3-9. However, in an exciting run of play, they turned the scorecard on its head to lead 11-9, making the game more competative than the Pamplona public can have hoped. It was not to last; step forward Irujo, who pulverised his opponents with a startling display of winners to which the ever lively Berasaluze had no answer.

In the end, the Asegarce competitors could do nothing but salute Irujo’s mastery but although disappointed, they must take encouragement from the form which saw them qualify in first place at the end of the quarter final rounds. Their contribution to this championship has been as a welcome gust of fresh air. Irujo and Goni will both play next weekend as they aim to fine tune their game to face the defending champions in San Sebastian in the ultimate showdown.

Dominant: Juan Martinez de Irujo

Dominant: Juan Martinez de Irujo

Image from: http://manista.blogs.com/bitacora/images/2008/11/17/irujo_adarraga.jpg



Mano pairs: Aimar and Oier show that defence is as good as attack by frontonnews
March 8, 2009, 10:25 pm
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Saturday 7th March
Labrit, Pamplona
OLAIZOLA II – MENDIZABAL II beat BERASALUZE VIII – BEGINO 22-20

Two Asegarce pairs entered the fray at Labrit on Saturday knowing that a loss would mean elimination. Pablo Berasaluze and Aritz Begino had already suffered heavy defeat in the semi final stage at the hands of Begoetxea VI and Beloki whereas the defending champions, Aimar Olaizola and Oier Mendizabal had lost slightly more narrowly to Irujo and Goni III. Such crucial encounters are rarely matches to write home about in terms of pure quality and so it proved in Pamplona, but it was Aimar and Oier, true big match performers, who survived this war of attrition and retained the golden chance of a final berth.

Many of the almost 1000 spectators in the Navarrese capital must have trained their eyes on Begino, whose Herculean strength had catapulted his pair into the semi finals two weeks ago. There are few pelotaris physically stronger from the back of the fronton and with direction added to brute force Begino had the potential to dominate here. However, that was to reckon without the guile of Oier Mendizabal who refused to be bowed. The young Gipuzkoan hit with strength and assurance everything that Berasaluze sent his way from the front and his relentless pressure began to tell on Begino, who kept pace initially but increasingly lost his way. Mendizabal committed only two errors in the 34.51 minutes of playing time; Begino hit eleven and by the closing stages looked shattered both mentally and physically.

Olaizola was not in vintage form. The Goizeutan’s normally lethal hook shot simply did not fire, for reasons best known to himself, but he was able to bring other strengths to bear. It is Aimar’s special gift to see the game from afar even when he is in the midst of it; he is unsurpassed as a reader of the game, a cool headed tactician who can judge a situation and act accordingly. Sensing his partner’s excellent form, Olaizola turned defender, both handing the initiative to Mendizabal and pressurising Begino until he cracked. It was a tactical master stroke on the part of the defending champions who did just enough to keep their hopes of overall glory alive.

The biggest loser in all of this was undoubtedly Pablo Berasaluze, who played like a man possessed. In hitting a succession of winners he demonstrated his full range of attacking skills and hit with impressive precision. Although he lacked a certain amount of presence at the tail end of the game, when it really mattered, his unceasing efforts earnt him the biggest cheers of the night. Ultimately though, defence rather than attack won the day; Aimar’s skills in this department combined with a Mendizabal who was at his very best snuffed the life both from Pablito and from the red pair’s championship dreams.

Scoring sequence: 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-3, 4-3, 4-4, 7-4, 7-5, 9-5, 9-7, 10-7, 10-10, 12-10, 12-12, 14-12, 14-16, 15-16, 15-19, 18-19, 18-21, 20-21 and 20-22.

Mendizabal II on fire

Mendizabal II on fire

Image from: http://www.diariovasco.com/prensa/noticias/200803/29/fotos/018D6COMP1_1.jpg

Sources: Diario Vasco, Diario de Navarra



Mano pairs: Beloki and Bengoetxea show their colours and go top by frontonnews
March 2, 2009, 11:38 pm
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Sunday 1st March

Atano III, San Sebastian

BENGOETXEA VI – BELOKI beat BERASALUZE VIII – BEGINO 22-11

In what could be termed the battle of the Bs, Asegarce played Asegarce for the honours in San Sebastian on Sunday night. Pablo Berasaluze and Aritz Begino finished the quarter final stages with a flurry, taking a nailbiting win over Titin III and Pascual to qualify in pole position but their opponents last night were in no mood for compromise. Oinatz Bengoetxea, the 24 year old manomanista champion from Leitza, is known as one of the best defensive forwards in the game; many opponents have discovered to their cost his incredible tenacity and ability to produce attack out of dead ends. His current partner in crime is Ruben Beloki, ten years his senior, and the owner of six championship txapelas, the most recent coming in the pairs, six years ago. If this display was anything to go by, Beloki is back and hungry for more, for it was his dominance and mind-blowing accuracy which won the day in emphatic style.

In the early points, the two sides seemed even enough but at 5-4 to the eventual losers, the floodgates opened and there was no way back for Pablito and Begino. Bengoextea was entirely prepared to let Beloki dictate the game and his defensive partner payed him back by the bucket load. In a stunning display, the veteran made up for his undoubtedly diminished speed with guile, tactical nouse and unrelenting accuracy. In the process of this showcase of his talents, he made not one single error. Compare his efforts to those of Begino and the reason for the discrepency in the scoreline becomes apparent. Begino is possessed of on of the strongest right arms in the game but strength is nothing without skill and this was not to be his night. He chalked up eight errors in the course of the evening and Beloki, metaphorically speaking of course, ate him for breakfast. Berasaluze tried his best to lift the spirits of his flagging partner but to no avail.

Berasaluze for his part struck eight winners but could do nothing to stop the rot. Bengoetxea hit fewer winners but also made fewer mistakes and through his incredible energy and indefatigable spirit was able to prevent his counterpart from cutting loose. After 59 minutes and 55 seconds, Oinatz and Ruben raised their arms in both triumph and the quiet satisfaction of a job well done. They now lead the semi final standings on points difference ahead of Irujo and Goni. Berasaluze and Begino find themselves bottom, one place below defending champions Olaizola II and Mendizabal II.

Scoring sequence: 3-0, 3-4, 4-4, 4-5, 15-5, 15-9, 17-9, 17-10, 21-10, 21-11 and 22-11

Ruben Beloki

Ruben Beloki

Image from: http://www.gara.net/Repository/Imagenes/Pub_3/Issue_1589/p047_01_148x140.jpg