WELLINGTON, FL – January 20, 2013 – Piaget, competing with three substitute players including Canadian Brandon Phillips, defeated Lucchese, 11-10, Sunday in the Joe Barry Memorial Cup Tournament at Jan Pamela South Field.
With Piaget already eliminated from Cup contention, Miguel Astrada, 18-year-old Joaquin Panelo and player-sponsor Melissa Ganzi gave Phillips, Lucas Lalor and Juan Badiola an opportunity to play alongside Piaget starter Juan Bollini.
The six-chukker game turned out to be one of the most exciting of the tournament with Phillips leading scorers with six goals.
Adding to the excitement was former 10-goaler Carlos Gracida filling in for Mariano Gracida, who was injured forty seconds into the opening chukker.
Carlos Gracida was coming back from Saturday’s hardfought 10-9 loss to Grand Champions Polo Club-based Audi and his son Carlitos Gracida.
Gracida showed no signs of letting up or fatigue while scoring a game-high eight goals.
Phillips competes with Audi’s Nic Roldan for undefeated Tonkawa in the Wanderers Classic.
|Piaget’s leading scorer Brandon Phillips lines up the ball. Photo credit Alex Pacheco.|
Phillips said he jumped at the opportunity to compete when asked to play. Phillips had planned to play 20-goal but the sponsor was unable to compete. He hopes to play the final 20-goal tournament as well as the 26-goal tournaments.
“I have played with all of these guys before individually at some point,” Phillips said. “The game plan was we’re four guys, digging for the ball and passing between us and one of us is always going to be open to find the open guy.
“It was team play, so it was fun to play with three other talented guys, just to hit the ball and pass it,” Phillips said. “It was a pleasure to play with them. I can always play better. You always want to play better.”
Both teams took the game seriously despite being out of Joe Barry Memorial Cup and Bobby Barry Cup contention.
“Everyone is a professional and it’s a tournament game and you need to be here and show yourself,” Phillips said. “Whether it means something or not you still need to play hard. It’s still a professional game. You’re only as good as your last game.”
Lucchese lost its 3-goal handicap lead when Carlos Gracida subbed in. Piaget jumped on Lucchese for an early 3-0 lead but still needed some time to find its chemistry. Lucchese tied the game at 3-3 late in the second chukker.
With 9-goaler Sebastian Merlos closely guarding Phillips, the Canadian scored and put Piaget in the lead for good, 4-3. Piaget built a 9-5 advantage after the fourth chukker and protected its lead.
“We played four very good chukkers, one okay one and one poor one,” Phillips said. “So it was pretty good for just throwing it together at the last minute with the support of Marc and Melissa Ganzi and their whole operation.”
Piaget, one of the top teams in the 20- and 26-goal tournaments this season, is now preparing to defend its 2012 Ylvisaker Cup title.
“The original Piaget team is a fantastic team,” Phillips said. “They are a very good team. They are going to do well with four very sharp players.”
Grand Champions Polo Club’s other elite polo team, Audi, will play Wednesday in the Joe Barry Memorial Cup tournament semifinals against Villa del Lago at 1 p.m. and Crab Orchard plays Zacara in the other semifinal at 3 p.m.
IPC, polo’s winter capital of the world, is celebrating its tenth anniversary with four 20-goal tournaments and three 26-goal tournaments including the 109th annual Maserati U.S. Open. Audi and Piaget will compete in every tournament.
Among other season highlights are the Feb. 15 Polo Hall of Fame Inductions at the National Museum of Polo in Lake Worth and Outback 40-Goal Challenge on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 3 p.m. to benefit the Polo Players Support Group, Inc.
|Piaget’s Juan Badiola takes a swing at the ball in 11-10 win over Lucchese.|
January 23, Wednesday, Audi vs. Villa del Lago, 1 p.m. and Crab Orchard vs. Zacara, 3 p.m., Joe Barry Cup Semifinals; January 24, Thursday, Goose Creek vs. La Herradura, 1 p.m. and Valiente vs. shootout winner of ERG-Lechuza Caracas, 3 p.m., Bobby Barry Cup Subsidiary Semifinals; January 27, Sunday: Bobby Barry Cup Final, noon; Joe Barry Cup Final, 3 p.m.
Jan. 8-27, Joe Barry Memorial Cup
Jan. 29-Feb. 24, Ylvisaker Cup
Feb. 20-March 3, Iglehart Cup
Feb. 20-March 3, CV Whitney Cup
March 5-March 24, USPA Piaget Gold Cup
March 26-April 21, 109th Maserati U.S. Open Polo Championship
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