Pro Recco are champions of Europe once more. The Italian champions on Saturday defeated Primorje in the grand final of the Champions League Final Six 8-7 to win their record 8th European title. In a typical final and tough match-up, Pietro Figlioli shot home a beautifully executed counter attack with 1.30 remaining in the game to give Recco a 6-8 lead which proved decisive. Although Sandro Sukno responded off a highly contested free throw, the 24 seconds remaining were too little for a miracle as Recco went on to be victorious. It saw Primorje, and former Recco players Sukno en Damir Buric, settling for silver medal for a second time after falling to Pro Recco in the 2012 final as well. The Croatian champions last year had claimed the bronze medal.
Primorje was on top of their game in the opening phase and that was displayed a 3-1 lead at quarter-time, after Sukno already scored his second goal with 4 seconds remaining in the opening period. Then however a simply tough phase of the encounter followed. How a final should be. Both defences worked well and the explosive offence players that both line-ups include had trouble creating space as neither teams could impose their offensive game and after Maro Jokovic made the best of 2 opportunities scoring twice in a row, the final was tied 3-3 at half-time. Recco now tried to make a run in the third quarter as they took a 4-5 lead and after fellow Primorje standout Petar Muslim had tied at 5-5, struck back twice consecutively through Dusko Pijetlovic and Alex Giorgetti who scored nicely as he got his team in the lead by two goals (5-7) at the end of the third quarter.
It was Muslim who finally broke the deadlock of a tense final session as he blasted one home with 3.27 to play to bring Primorje back within one: 6-7. But then the dagger followed by Pietro Figlioli. The fast swimmer and shooter was left open in a well-executed counter attack and from 5 meters out beautifully scored with just 1.32 remaining. A daunting task for Primorje who saw their hopes of a quick response being bashed by Damir Buric who committed a turnover the following possession and quickly after even was excluded with substitution. Recco head coach Igor Milanovic took a time-out and told his men to play out the clock. They did and in the remaining half a minute, Primorje managed to score through Sukno who shot past two defenders to net the 7-8 goal but that was it as Pro Recco played out the game clock and started celebrating a record-breaking European title. With, at the helm, the head coach who edged Recco in the famous 2011 final in Rome as coach of Partizan: Igor Milanovic.
In the first match of the day hosts Barceloneta claimed the bronze medal as they topped Jug Dubrovnik in a high-scoring contest 12-14, led by Most Valuable Player awarded Felipe Perrone’s 4 goals. The decision in the game came late in the third period and early fourth quarter as the home side, dethroned champions, scored three goals in a row to take a 9-12 lead. Jug came back to within a single-goal distance on two more occasions late in the game but the dagger was produced by Serbian centre-forward Nemanja Ubovic who scored the 12-14 goal with under a minute remaining.
Final Six schedule
Thursday, 28 May
ZF-Eger (HUN) vs. Jug CO Dubrovnik (CRO) 8-10 (1-2, 2-2, 2-3, 3-3)
Eger scorers: Marton Szivos 2, Boris Vapenski 2, Peter Biros, Uros Cuckovic, Norbert Hosnyanszky, Milos Cuk.
Jug scorers: Andro Buslje 3, Paulo Obradovic 2, Miho Boskovic, Nikola Janovic, Aaron Younger, Marko Ivankovic, Nicolas Constantin-Bicari.
C.N. Atletic-Barceloneta (ESP) vs. Szolnoki VSK (HUN) 10-9 (2-1, 2-1, 2-1, 0-3; penalties: 4-3)
Barceloneta scorers: Felipe Perrone, Marc Minguell, Marc Roca, Gonzalo Echenique, Roger Tahull.
Szolnok scorers: Norbert Madaras 3, Marton Vamos, Milan Aleksic.
Friday, 29 May
ZF-Eger vs. Szolnki VSK 8-7 (3-1, 1-3, 3-2, 1-1)
Eger scorers: Norbert Hosnyanszky 2, Marton Szivos 2, Boris Vapenski 2, Daniel Angyal, Peter Biros.
Szolnok scorers: Denes Varga 4, Marton Vamos, David Jansik, Daniel Varga.
Jug CO Dubrovnik (CRO) vs. Primorje EB Rijeka (CRO) 9-10 (2-2, 3-2, 2-4, 2-2)
Jug scorers: Nikola Janovic 3, Marko Ivankovic 2, Marko Macan. Miho Boskovic, Aaron Younger, Andro Buslje.
Primorje scorers: Sandro Sukno 4, Petar Muslim 3, Cosmin Radu, Andelo Setka, Xavi Garcia.
C.N. Atletic-Barceloneta (ESP) vs. Pro Recco (ITA) 11-12 (3-2, 4-3, 3-5, 1-2)
Barceloneta scorers: Felipe Perrone 4, Gonzalo Echenique 2, Nemanja Ubovic 2, Marc Minguell, Francisco Fernandez, Roger Tahull.
Pro Recco scorers: Filip Filipovic 5, Dusko Pijetlovic 3, Alex Giorgetti 2, Maro Jokovic, Pietro Figlioli.
Saturday, 30 May
Jug CO Dubrovnik (Loser SF1) vs. C.N. Atletic-Barceloneta (Loser SF2) 12-14 (5-3, 3-5, 1-3, 3-3)
Jug scorers: Paulo Obradovic 4, Miho Boskovic 2, Nicolas Constantin-Bicari 2, Nikola Janovic, Aaron Younger, Andro Buslje, Marko Ivankovic.
Barceloneta scorers: Felipe Perrone 4, Nemanja Ubovic 3, Gonzalo Echenique 3, Albert Español 2, Francisco Fernandez, Gonzalo Lopez-Escribano.
Primorje EB Rijeka (Winner SF1) vs. Pro Recco (Winner SF2) 7-8 (3-1, 0-2, 2-4, 2-1)
Primorje scorers: Sandro Sukno 3, Petar Muslim 2, Cosmin Radu, Andelo Setka.
Pro Recco scorers: Maro Jokovic 2, Pietro Figoli 2, Aleksandar Ivovic 2, Alex Giorgetti, Dusko Pijetlovic.