SPORTS

Greece narrowly defeatedMen’s water polo side loses 9-8 to Hungary at world championship semifinal

The men’s national water polo side fought a brave fight against traditional powerhouse Hungary in a world championships semifinal in Barcelona late last night before finally succumbing by 9-8, in extra time. The game had ended at 8-8 after regular time. Greece, which went into the game as the underdog against the defending Olympic Champion, managed to lead for the game’s greater part. Following last night’s defeat, Greece will play in Saturday’s minor final for the bronze medal against the loser of the other semifinal between Italy and Serbia-Montenegro, played later last night. Greece, which surpassed its previous best performance of sixth place at the world championships, surprised pundits by making it as far as the semifinals in Barcelona after a shaky start to the tournament. The national team narrowly lost its first game to Germany, defeated China in the next game, but suffered a heavy loss to Italy in Game 3. Greece, however, rebounded to defeat Russia, after a penalty shootout, to gain a quarterfinal berth in which it caused another upset by defeating the USA to reach last night’s semifinal. The Hungarians, who, according to reports, were pleasantly surprised by the prospect of meeting Greece in their semifinal encounter, found themselves either trailing its opponent or keeping level. Hungary needed to draw on its extensive experience, which has earned the side a total of seven Olympic gold medals as well as one world title, to overcome Greece, a stubborn foe that seemed to sense victory as the minutes ticked away. Hungary went ahead, 4-3, early in the third quarter after falling behind, only to prompt a solid response from Greece, which struck back twice to go into the final quarter with a 5-4 lead. Hungary equalized with a penalty shot early in the final quarter, Greece responded immediately to regain the lead at 6-5, then Hungary equalized with a bit over two minutes of regular time remaining. Greece went ahead twice during the six minutes of extra time, forcing Hungary to bounce back twice before scoring the final goal.