For the third time after 2013 and 2018, PPD Zagreb made it to the final of the SEHA - Gazprom League. In the first ever All-Croatian semi-final in the history of the competition, they managed to leave their domestic rivals from Nexe behind in the opener of the Final 4 in Brest, Belarus. Best scorers were Marko Buvinic (7 for Nexe) and Damir Bicanic (7 for PPD). Zagreb’s final opponent will be decided in the second semi, Vardar vs Meshkov Brest later on.
Semi-final 1: PPD Zagreb (CRO) – Nexe (CRO) 28:23 (15:11)
In their eighth semi-final in the eighth season of the SEHA – Gazprom League, Zagreb had initial advantages against Final 4 debutants Nexe. Thanks to an already strong start of left back Damir Bicanic, who scored three of PPD’s first six goals, Zagreb were ahead by 6:3 and later-on even at 10:6 in minute 19. But when goalkeeper Moreno Car improved and their efficiency in attack increased, Nexe managed to reduce the gap.
Marin Sipic and Buvinic netted in three times each before the break, and the halftime score could have even been closer: But Nexe failed in their last attack to score for the 14:12, while David Mandic grabbed the last chance by counter-attack to pull Zagreb ahead to 15:11.
After the break both sides did not go high risk, but waited patiently for their changes in a low-speed match, mainly scoring by individual actions. Zagreb still were permanently ahead, but could not cast off bravely fighting team from Nasice until minute 49. The 23:18, Bicanic’s sixth strike, moved Zagreb on the winners’ way, combined with a huge number of saves of goalkeeper Radivoje Ristanovic in that period.
Photo credit: Kolektiff Images