Rhein Neckar Löwen beat HBC Nantes 28:26 in a tense and exciting final match
First title for Rhein Neckar Löwen
Nantes tried to play with a very aggressive defence right from the start but it turned against them, with a series of two-minute suspenstions and they were down by three goals after ten minutes.
But Arnaud Siffert, who had been Nantes' hero during the semi-final, started his show and along with his teammate Jorge Maqueda, they helped Nantes to get back into the game.
They even took a short two-goal advantage thanks to Frederic Dole's fastbreak.
However Gudmundur Gudmunsson was a wise coach and changed Niklas Landin for Goran Stojanovic in the Rhein-Neckar goal.
His saves and Uwe Gensheimer's fastbreak gave the Germans a four goal advantage at half-time, 16:12.
Nantes' comeback on the court followed the same pattern as at the beginning of the game.
Many saves from Arnaud Siffert and Valero Rivera on the fastbreak. The French cut their deficit back to two goals, having two occasions to make the gap even smaller.
Goran Stojanovic was quick to extinguish the fire and Uwe Gensheimer gave Rhein Neckar Löwen a five goal lead with the end in sight.
Throwing everything in to the battle, Nantes decided to play even tougher in defence while the entry of Seufyann Sayad gave them a reason to hope.
But numerous saves from Arnaud Siffert proved to be useless as Goran Stojanovic had a good day in the opponent's goal.
Rhein-Neckar Löwen win the first trophy of their history, 26:24, against Nantes.
Press conference statements
Gudmundur Gudmunsson (coach Rhein-Neckar Löwen)
Uwe Gensheimer (player Rhein-Neckar Löwen)
Thierry Anti (Nantes coach)
I'm very sad, but very proud of what we've achieved too. Congratulations to Rhein Neckar for their victory. The most important moment of the game was at the end of the first half, where we lost some balls and they managed to break away. We had difficulties to come back, and we didn't score in key moments of the game.
Alberto Entrerrios (player/coach Nantes)
Firstly, congratulations to Rhein-Neckar for their victory. I'm so proud of my teammates, we had lot of pressure on our shoulders, we'll try again next year and I hope we'll manage to win this time.
Photos: Stephane Pillaud
TEXT: Kevin Domas/jw
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