Enjoying the Pressure, Brian Afanador Warms Up, Canada Feels the Heat
Courtesy of ITTF
Crowned Latin American Junior champion some three weeks earlier on home soil in Aguada; Brian Afanador emerged as the hero of the hour, as play concluded on the first day of action, Sunday July 19th, in the table tennis events at the 2015 Pan American Games in Markham, Toronto.
He beat Pierre-Luc Theriault in the opening match of the fixture in the Men’s Team event against Canada (7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-6), before in the decisive fifth and concluding contest of the engagement overcoming Marko Medjugorac (11-5, 11-9, 11-4).
The two successes gave Puerto Rico a three matches to two win against the host nation and upset the order of merit. Canada commenced matters as the no.4 seeds; Puerto Rico occupied the no.6 seeded position.
“I like the pressure, I lost the first game against Pierre-Luc but it was my first match of the tournament and I was cold; after the opening game I warmed up and my head was better”, said Brian Afanador. “Against Marko I was expected to win but it was the fifth match so there was added pressure; I won and overall today I’m pleased with how I played.”
Two wins from Brian Afanador but arguably the crucial match in the engagement was the doubles won by Hector Berrios and Daniel Gonzalez against Marko Medjugorac and Pierre-Luc Theriault (11-6, 3-11, 11-8, 11-6).
“I was nervous before we started today, I lost to Eugene Wang but that loss gave me confidence”, explained Daniel Gonzalez, who had been beaten by the Canadian in three straight games in the second match of the fixture (11-2, 11-8, 11-6).
“He doesn’t blast the ball like many Chinese, he’s safe and he lets you play; I made too many unforced errors”, added Daniel Gonzalez. “In the doubles, they served half long, we were able to attack their services; we were able to take the initiative and we were able to win the rallies.”
The one further win for the host nation came from Eugene Wang; in the fourth match of the engagement he accounted for Hector Berrios (11-6, 11-2, 11-5).
Puerto Rico now confronts Guatemala, the no.11 seeds, in their concluding group stage fixture. In their previous fixture, Guatemala had suffered a three-nil defeat at the hands of Canada.
Teams finishing in first and second places in each group advance to the main draw.
Marco Madrid Unbeaten but Efforts in Vain
Defeat for the no.4 seeds; there was a close call for the no.3 seeds. Argentina needed the full five matches to beat Mexico, the no.5 seeds.
The player to cause Argentina problems was Marcos Madrid. He beat both Rodrigo Gilabert (10-12, 11-4, 12-10, 13-11) and Pablo Tabachnik (11-2, 11-5, 12-14, 11-8) but that was to prove the sum total of the Central American outfit’s success.
Gaston Alto beat Ricardo Villa in the second match of the fixture (10-12, 12-10, 8-11, 11-7), before teaming with Pablo Tabachnik to overcome Miguel Lara and Ricardo in the immediately ensuing doubles contest (11-5, 11-5, 11-4).
Matters concluded with Rodrigo Gilabert accounting for Miguel Lara (11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 11-7) to seal the victory and a quarterfinal place.
Concluding First Stage Contest
Earlier in the day Argentina had beaten the Dominican Republic by three matches to nil.
Dominican Republic now faces Mexico to determine second position in the group and quarterfinal place.