PR47 - Hosts Montenegro defeat Croatia for the title, Serbia takes bronze over USA
Yesterday in Podgorica (MNE) the FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Super Final champion of 2009 was determined after Montenegro defeated Croatia in the final with a score of 8-7 (3-1, 2-2, 2-1, 1-3). The victory was a sweet one for the host national team, who defeated their Balkan neighbours in front of 4000 raucous fans. In the bronze medal game, it was Serbia which took the last medal on offer by overcoming USA with a score of 9-7 (2-2, 1-2, 4-2, 2-1).
The fate of the World League was somewhat pre-determined, as Montenegro went all out from the start. Nevertheless, goals were constantly exchanged and MNE remained in control often by a minimum. The score at half time was 5-3 for MNE. Croatia fought-on however, and even with a score of 7-4 going into the final quarter, MNE could by no means be sure of the outcome. In the end, the hosts gained a narrow win, triggering fireworks and jubilant celebrations from players, coaches in the pool and crowds in the stands. Three of the tournament top scorers are from MNE.
In the fight for bronze, USA put itself in front by scoring 8 seconds from the start. Serbia responded with a point two minutes later, before USA was up again and Serbia levelled it out with another goal by the end of the first period: 2-2. The game continued in this back-and-forth pattern, with strong defence and numerous extra men opportunities missed on both sides in the second quarter. USA was ahead by one goal at half: 3-4. After strong counterattacking on both sides, the third ended at 7-6 for SRB. Two final efforts by SRB in the last period gave them the lead and the medal.
Final Rankings Overall: 1. Montenegro, 2. Croatia, 3. Serbia, 4. United States, 5. Italy, 6. Australia, 7. Japan, 8. South Africa.
The Tournaments top-scorers: 1. N. Janovic (MNE) 16, 2. B. Zlokovic (MNE) 14, 3. S. Antonijevic (CRO), M. Janovic (MNE), T. Azevedo (USA), P. Le Roux (RSA), all with 9.
The AUS vs. ITA game also took place yesterday to determine 5th-6th places. Italy won this tight game by 11-10 (2-2, 3-2, 1-2, 5-4) to place itself 5th in the standings. The score was 4-5 at half for ITA, with both teams playing aggressively. With a score of 6-6 going into the last quarter, the outcome was anybody’s guess. Italy scored 43 seconds inside the fourth. AUS equalised, but only to be re-scored on by Italy, which is, in turn, was countered again by an outside Australian goal. Three quick ones from ITA finally gave them a decisive lead that AUS couldn’t quite overcome.
The other game of the day – to determine the 7th-8th in the rankings – ended with an 11-9 (2-3, 3-1, 3-3, 3-2) victory for Japan over South Africa.