The teams that entered the Final Four from better starting positions reached the semifinals of the Final Eight in Belgrade after first two quarterfinals.
The derby of the afternoon session, an encounter between Novi Beograd and Olympiacos, didn’t produce a thrilling ending. Novi Beograd, 2nd placed team in Group B, led by unstoppable Alvaro Granados, who found the net five times, recorded a 13:11 victory.
Barceloneta, the winner of Group A, defeated Jug 11:9. Jug played very well, but it couldn’t surprise the Spanish champion, who secured a win in the third quarter.
On Thursday, Novi Beograd and Barceloneta will meet in the semifinals at 17:30. The match of the 5th-8th place semifinals, Jug – Olympiacos, starts at 15:30.
2023 Final Eight Belgrade, Quarterfinals 1 and 2
Barceloneta – Jug 11:9 (1:1, 4:4, 4:2, 2:2)
Barceloneta: Aguirre, Famera, Matkovic, Munarriz 2, De Toro 1, Larumbe, Pavillard 3, Fernandez, Tahull, Perrone 2, Biel 3, Bustos, Porter. Head coach: Fatovic.
Jug AO: Popadic, Burdjelez, Mozara 1, Zvono, Jokovic 2, Vukojevic, Biljaka 1, Lazic, Prkoca, Kakaris 1, Grgurevic, Zuvela 3, Jurisic. Head coach: Kobescak.
Jug, playing without two very important players (Loren Fatovic and Ognjen Krzic) displayed a very good performance, but it couldn’t surprise Barceloneta.
The first quarter was a defensive battle, with qute a lot of exclusions but only two goals. Five penalty shots were awarded in the first quarter – three for Barceloneta and two for Jug, and only two were converted. Barceloneta’s Larumbe and Perrone didn’t find the net from the 5m line. At the other end f the pool, Aguirre saved a shot from Zuvela. The men who managed to hit the back of the net from the penalty line were Munarriz, who gave Barceloneta a 1:0 lead in the 4th minute, and Jokovic, who leveled at 1:1 with 65 seconds left on the clock in this period.
The second period was a completely different story. The teams traded the goals. Barceloneta took a 1-goal three times, but Jug leveled immediately after each of the four goals until 4:4. In the 15th minute, Kakaris converted a man-up and put Jug in front for the first time – 5:4. But, the Croats didn’t have the lead for a long since Matkovic replied in the same manner just 35 seconds after. He leveled at 5:5 from a 6 on 5.
Barceloneta started breaking Jug’s resistance in the opening minutes of the second half. Luke Pavillard made it 6:5 with an extra player. After that, Jug wasted its man-up. That was followed by moments in which the Spaniards made a crucial difference. Felipe Perrone netted two almost identical goals from close-range shots in two quick attacks within 36 seconds and the Spanish champion went to 8:5.
However, the battle wasn’t over yet. Early in the fourth period, Jug reduced the gap to one after Zuvela scored for 8:9. But, shortly after, Barceloneta rebuilt a 3-goal lead by converting two man-ups (Biel and Pavillard) and the contest was over.
Novi Beograd – Olympiacos 13:11 (4:2, 2:4, 3:1, 4:4)
Novi Beograd: FIlipovic, S.Rasovic, Martinovic, Granados 5, Vucinic 1, Pijetlovic 1, Drasovic 2, Jaksic, Perkovic 1, Vlachopoulos 2, Skoumpakis, V.Rasovic 1, Pedro Coimbra. Head coach: Gocic.
Olympiacos: Bijac, Gkillas, Vamos 3, Genidounias, Fountoulis 2, Gouvis, Dervisis, Buslje, Mourikis, Filipovic 3, Dimou, Papanastasiou 3, Zerdevas. Head coach: Milanovic.
One of two big derbies of the quarterfinals wasn’t as exciting a contest as many expected. Novi Beograd controlled the game. Olympiacos was coming back from time to time, but it never took the lead, primarily because of many missed man-ups.
Novi Beograd dictated the pace for most of the first half. Still, the teams were tied at 6:6 at halftime. The first quarter belonged to Novi Beograd. Alvaro Granados opened the second period with an excellent goal and the hosts earned a solid 5:2 advantage already in the 11th minute of the match. However, Olympiacos managed to come back. Filipovic and Papansatsatiou cut the deficit to one (4:5). Granados doubled Novi Beograd’s advantage. The Serbian champion entered the final minute of the first half leading 6:4, but Olympiacos erased that deficit in the final 40 seconds. First, Marton Vamos found the net for 5:6. Ioannis Fountoulis leveled at 6:6. Two seconds before the buzzer, he surprised Novi Beograd’s goalie Joao Pedro Coimbra Fernandez and the teams were in the same starting line before the third period.
Olympiacos big problem in the quarterfinals was, as mentioned, a poor power-play conversion. Even though the Greeks’ first center-forward Kolomvos didn’t play, Olympiacos forced a lot of exclusions. However, it didn’t make advantage of that. At the end of the game, their power play conversion was 3/16. Novi Beograd converted six of their 10 attacks with a man more in the water.
The Greeks had six man-ups in the third quarter and didn’t convert a single one. Drasovic gave the Serbs a 7:6 lead at the other end of the pool in the 17th minute. In the following minutes, defenses dominated. Three minutes before the last break, Granados converted a man-up after a long pass from Vucinic to make it 8:6. Filip Filipovic responded immediately, but Drasovic restored a 2-goal lead (9:7).
At the beginning of the fourth period, the teams quickly exchanged goals for 10:8 and everything was decided midway through this quarter. Pijetlovic scored from a rebound in the 27th minute. Olympiacos lost the ball in its next attack. Novi Beograd earned a penalty foul in its following possession. Granados sent the ball into the net for 12:8 with 04:27 minutes left on the clock. There was still a lot of time until the end, but Olympiacos couldn’t come back. It halved the distance twice (10:12 and 11:13), but didn’t endanger the hosts’ victory.