TOKYO (AP) — Greece is one win away from its first men’s water polo medal at the Olympics.
Konstantinos Genidounias scored five goals to lead Greece to a 10-4 victory over Montenegro in the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Games, and Spain also advanced with a 12-8 win against the United States on Wednesday.
Greece is making its first appearance in the semis since it finished fourth at the 2004 Athens Olympics. It finished sixth at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016.
Next up is the winner of the Croatia-Hungary quarterfinal. Genidounias said winning a medal for Greece “means absolutely everything.”
“We’re not fighting for just the 13 of us and the coaching staff,” he said. “We’re fighting for (the) entire county. It would mean everything for us.”
Backed by a noticeable cheering section comprised of people from the country’s Olympic party, Greece limited Montenegro to one goal in the first half. Genidounias then scored three times in the third quarter to help his team open a 6-1 lead.
“We brought the good defense from the preliminary round, which was our goal,” Genidounias said. “One hundred percent it’s what gave us the win.”
Spain improved to 6-0 in Tokyo, outscoring its opponents 73-39, but it was pushed into the second half in the United States’ best performance of the tournament.
Spain was clinging to a 7-6 lead in the fourth quarter when a video review showed U.S. attacker Luca Cupido entered too early after an exclusion. Alberto Munarriz Egana buried the ensuing penalty shot, and Blai Mallarach Guell and Roger Tahull Compte added big goals down the stretch.
“It was not easy. It’s Olympic Games, it’s like that,” Spain captain Felipe Perrone said. “But it was important that we keep playing our way of playing.”
Daniel Lopez Pinedo, who turned 41 on July 16, made 11 saves for Spain, which will play the Italy-Serbia winner in the next round.
Hannes Daube scored three times for the U.S., which has dropped four straight. Alex Obert had two goals, and Alex Wolf finished with eight stops.
“We were great. I’m proud of my guys,” said U.S. coach Dejan Udovicic, who declined comment when asked about the video review that led to the penalty shot.
The 6-foot-4 Daube, the youngest player on the U.S. roster at 21, is considered a rising star, but he has struggled with inconsistency in his first Olympics. He scored five goals in five games during group play.
“Every game’s different,” Daube said. “So I try to go out there, do my best, stay confident, and my teammates have my back and I have their back.”
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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