Five men’s national water polo teams competed for the 2017 Samartzidis Cup which took place on June 23-25 in Athens. Host Greece, Canada, Spain, Montenegro, and Hungary played ten matches in total. The event had a significant role in helping teams prepare for the upcoming World Championship in Budapest (July 17-29). Hungary emerged as a gold medal winner, while Montenegro was the runner-up and Spain won bronze.
The first match on June 23 between Montenegro and Spain ended in a draw (5-5). The teams were pretty balanced during the entire game. Misic scored the opener to give Montenegro the first lead, but Spain responded with two consecutive goals to end the first quarter with a one-goal advantage (1-2). From then on, Montenegro water polo squad was falling behind and managed to equalize on three occasions by the end, including the last goal by Radovic for final result 5-5.
Later that day, Spain recorded the first win by defeating the host. The first and the final quarter were tied, but Spain managed to net one more goal than Greece in both second and third period, which led to the 6-4 victory.
Canada lost two games on Day One. The host left Canada scoreless in the first period reaching a three-goal lead, which increased by two before halftime (1-6). Canada woke up in the second half which was tied, but it wasn’t enough. Greece collected its first win in front of the home crowd (4-9). Hungary also recorded a convincing victory over Canada (12-7), after completely controlling the match during which Canada was again struggling to make a comeback.
On June 24, Canada was so close to the first triumph in Greece, but Spain prevailed in the final quarter and collected the second win. Canada was trailing 3-4 at halftime and managed to equalize eight minutes before the end (6-6). Spain water polo players stepped up their defense and achieved a narrow victory (8-9). Canada suffered another defeat later in a game against Montenegro (6-13) although it scored the first goal. Montenegro stroke back with seven goals in a row and the winner was known after the first half.
The outcome of the clash between Hungary and Montenegro was determined in the third period in which Hungary scored four unanswered goals. In spite of a tied first half, the four-goal difference was insurmountable for Montenegro water polo players. They were only able to bring down the deficit to three (9-6).
The most exciting match of the day was the one between the host and Hungary. After a tied first quarter, Hungary went on a break with an important one-goal advantage (2-3). Both teams’ play was on top as they did not allow any big difference to be created. Hungary failed to keep its lead until the end and the result was tied in the end (9-9).
In a match that was crucial for winning the gold medal, Hungary overpowered Spain. Although Barroso netted an opener for Spain, Hungary stroke back and went on a break with a significant one-goal advantage (4-3). However, Spain did not surrender and tied the result before the final period. Hungary water polo players stepped up their game and proved too strong for their rival. This triumph (9-7) was their third and meant first place.
Host failed to win the bronze after suffering a slim loss to Montenegro (5-6). Greece water polo players were trailing 1-2 at halftime and had their hopes high determined to triumph one more time in front of the domestic audience. However, Montenegro increased the lead to three before the fourth period and stepped up its defense to prevent Greece from equalizing. Hosting team managed to cut the deficit to one, but failed to tie the result in the last attack.
Hungary recorded victories over all of its rivals except for Greece and won gold with 10 points in total. Although Montenegro and Spain both won 7 points, silver went to Montenegro thanks to the number of goals scored and received. The two teams triumphed over Canada and Greece and lost to Hungary, while their encounter ended in a draw. Greece finished fourth with 4 points and one win only – against Canada. The host lost to Spain and Montenegro, whereas its clash with Hungary was tied. Canada 2017 finished the Samartzidis Cup winless.
1. Hungary 10 points (39-29)
2. Montenegro 7 (30-25)
3. Spain 7 (27-26)
4. Greece 4 (27-25)
5. Canada 0 (25-43)
2017 Samartzidis Cup
Friday, June 23
Montenegro – Spain 5-5 (1-2, 2-2, 1-1, 1-0)
Canada – Greece 4-9 (0-3, 1-3, 2-2, 1-1)
Hungary – Canada 12-7 (2-3, 3-1, 3-2, 4-1)
Greece – Spain 4-6 (2-2, 1-2, 0-1, 1-1)
Saturday, June 24
Canada – Spain 8-9 (2-3, 1-1, 3-2, 2-3)
Hungary – Montenegro 9-6 (2-3, 2-1, 4-0, 1-2)
Canada – Montenegro 6-13 (1-3, 0-4, 4-2, 1-4)
Greece – Hungary 9-9 (2-2, 0-1, 3-3, 4-3)
Sunday, June 25
Hungary – Spain 9-7 (1-1, 3-2, 1-2, 4-2)
Greece – Montenegro 5-6 (1-2, 0-0, 1-3, 3-1)