The Preliminary Stage of the first LEN Challenger Cup started this evening with the matches in Novaky, Sarajevo and Kranj. The first matches in the group in Terrassa are scheduled for Saturday.
As expected, there were not many one-sided contests. Most of the games were open until the final minutes.
The most exciting game of the day was a duel between Apollon and Ludwigsburg. The Greeks collected points with a narrow 11:10 victory.
The other Greek club, Ydraikos, wasn’t happy after the first match. Tenerife beat Ydraikos 13:10 in the derby of Group A in Novaky.
The derby of Bosnia and Herzegovina was on today’s program in Group C. Invictum Sarajevo defeated weakened Banja Luka 17:12.
Two encounters between the clubs from Turkey and Slovakia were played today. Both Turkish clubs (Galatasaray and ENKA) posted comfortable victories.
LEN Challenger Cup, Preliminary Stage, Day 1
Group A (Novaky, Slovakia)
Ydraikos – Tenerife 10:13 (3:4, 3:4, 2:3, 2:2)
Ydraikos: Suzuki 3, Blanis 2, Takata 2, Gkaranis 1, Rompopoulos 1, Kontonis 1.
Echeyde Tenerife: Salvador 4,Alegre 3, Espanol 2, Gurierrez 1, Keeuning 1,Mercado 1,Gonzalez 1.
KVP Novaky – Galatasaray 6:13 (0:1, 1:3, 2:4, 3:5)
KVP Novaky: Tisaj 2, Kovacik 1, Ravinger 1, Zatovic 1, Bielik 1
Galatasaray: Destici 5, Yalcin 3, Colak 3, Akkaya 1, Senemoglu 1,
Tenerife led for most of the time against Ydraikos, but the Spaniards secured a three-goal win at the finish of the game. Tenerife entered the final quarter with an 11:8 advantage. The Greeks reduced the gap to one (10:11), but Tenerife netted two goals in the last two minutes and a half for a 13:10 victory.
A good defense was vital for Galatasaray’s win over KVP Novaky. At halftime, the Turks were three steps ahead of the hosts (4:1). They doubled the advantage in the third period (8:2), and Novaky couldn’t come back.
Group C (Sarajevo, BiH)
Invictum – Banja Luka 17:12 (7:5, 3:2, 4:3, 3:2)
Invictum Sarajevo: A.Hadzic 7, B.Hadzic 5, Mateescu 2, Bjelica 1, Krivic 1, Ostojic 1.
Banja Luka: Cosic 3, Djugum 3, Prastalo 2, Vujkovic 2, Ganic 1, Kojcinovic 1.
ENKA Istanbul – Kosice 22:10 (6:2, 6:5,6:2, 4:1)
ENKA Istanbul:Obradovic 4, Baskaya 4, Duzenli 3, Alkan 3, Yenigun 3, Kahraman 2, Albayrak 1, Ozbek 1, Ergin 1.
SKP Ksice: Motyl 4, Juhasz 2, Muzhychuk 1, Afanasev 1, Orem 1, Marian Tkac 1.
The first-ever LEN tournament in Sarajevo was opened with the derby of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Invictus Sarajevo – Banja Luka. The visitors from Banja Luka have been the reigning BiH champions since 2016 (six titles in a row), but they had only 10 players on the roster today. Still, Banja Luka started well and earned a 3:1 lead after three minutes of play. In the middle of the scoring festival in the first quarter, Invictum took control. The hosts had a 7:5 lead after the 8th minute. Invictum was always in front in the next three periods, but Banja Luka kept up with the hosts. In the 22nd minute, one goal separated the rivals (11:10). Then Banja Luka left without captain Vujkovic, who received the third personal foul, so the visitors continued the match with only two substitutes. That exclusion was a turning point. Invictus produced a 5:0 run, built a 16:10 lead and secured its first-ever victory in LEN competitions.
ENKA Istanbul recorded the biggest win of the day. Enka earned a 4-goal lead in the first quarter of the clash with Kosice (5:1 and 6:2) The second quarter was quite balanced, but the Turks left no chance to Kosice.
Group D (Kranj, Slovenia)
Apollon – Ludwigsburg 11:10 (5:2, 2:2, 2:5, 2:1)
Apollon Smyrnis: Alamanos 2, Bogdanovic 2, Mokkas 2, Solanakis 2, Chondrokoukis 1, Gardikas 1, Myrilos 1.
Ludwigsburg 08: Prieto Hernandez 4, Bauer 2, Pavicic-Capucho 1, Andjelic 1, Metodiev 1, Blazevic 1.
Triglav – KVIK Kastrup 13:9 (3:1, 3:4, 3:3, 4:1)
AVK Triglav: Troppan 5, Canc 2, Lah 2, Justin 2, Rajlic 1, Cerar 1.
KVIK Kastrup: Koska 5, Hassel 4.
One of the best Greek clubs, Apollon, is the favorite in Group A, but it had to fire on all cylinders to collect the points against Ludwigsburg. In the second period, Apollon had a 4-goal advantage (6:2 and 7:3). But, Ludwigsburg came back. Moreover, the German club went ahead (9:8) late into the third quarter. Apollon leveled at 9:9 nine seconds before the last break, and added two goals in the fourth period for an 11:9 advantage. Ludwigsburg’s 10th goal came too late – with 42 seconds to go.
Host Triglav built a 3-goal lead early in the second period (4:1). However, KVIK didn’t surrender without a battle. The Danish team started coming back step by step. In the 25th minute, KVIK equalized(9:9). Still, the visitors’ hopes didn’t live for long. Triglav, led by Aljaz Troppan, responded with two quick goals for 11:9 and stretched the margin to four before the final buzzer.
Day 2 (November 11)
Group A (Novaky): Ydraikos – Galatasaray (17:00), KVP Novaky – Tenerife (18:30)
Group B (Terrassa): Terrassa – ASA Tel Aviv (10:00), Terrassa – ZPC Het Ravijn (18:00)
Group C (Sarajevo): Invictum – Enka (18:00), Kosice – Banja Luka (20:00)
Group D (Kranj): Apollon – KVIK (18:30), Triglav – Ludwigsburg (20:15)