FINA World Championships, Water Polo: Defending Champions Serbia Start Strong; U.S. Suffers Defeat

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SHANGHAI, China, July 18. THE first full day of men's water polo preliminary competition began today at the FINA World Championships held in Shanghai.

In the first match of the day, and of men's competition in Shanghai, Hungary edged Montenegro, 11-10. Peter Biros led the way for Hungary with a four-for-nine effort, while Nikola Janovic and Aleksandar Ivovic paced a balanced attack for Montenegro with two goals each.

"I think it is strange, the style of the referees," Hungarian coach Denes Kemeny said. "We didn't play our best game. Fortunately, we did well in the last quarter. We have to improve."

Spain followed the close first match with an 18-5 drubbing of Kazakhstan. Four different players tallied hat tricks for Spain: Guillermo Molina Rios, Marc Minguell Alferez, Felipie Perrone Rocha and Ivan Ernesto Perez Vargas. Meanwhile, Evgeniy Zhilyayev scored three of Kazakhstan's five goals for a hat trick of his own. Spain will be looking to improve upon its silver-medal performance from 2009, to possibly win its first world title since ascending the top of the podium with a win in 2001.

Australia clipped Romania, 9-8, in the third match of the day. William Miller went three-for-six for the Aussies, while Cosmin Alexandru Radu, Tiberiu Negrean and Ramiro Georgescu led Romania with two goals each.

"We stayed confident, and confidence is quite important," Australia's Aaron Younger said of the match. "The game is very tough. I feel excited that the women's team came to support us."

Croatia smashed Brazil, 14-5, in the fourth match. Miho Boskovic connected on four-of-seven shots for Croatia, while Jonas Crivella was the only multiple scorer for Brazil with two goals. Croatia's dominance gives the team hope to medal again, after taking bronze in 2009. The squad picked up the world title in 2007 in Melbourne as well.

In the fifth match, Canada doubled up Japan, 11-5. Kevin Graham appeared unstoppable with a five-for-eight outing for the Canadians. Five different players connected for Japan.

"It was a good game," Canadais' Omar Touni said after the win. "We will move on to the next game, and there is no easy win here."

In match six, Germany tripped up the U.S., 9-7. Moritz Benedikt Oeler paced Germany with a hat trick, while Tony Azevedo led the Stars and Stripes with two goals.

"It's a nice start," Germany's Dennis Eidner said. "It's good, but it was a hard game. In the first quarter, we took the lead, but the game remained tough."

Italy put up the most dominant win of the day with a 17-1 whitewashing of South Africa. Amaldo Deserti led the Italian scoring avalanche with a four-for-seven outing. Alex Giorgetti also chipped in a hat trick with a three-for-four effort. Jason Ray Kyte provided the lone goal for the South Africans.

Defending world champion Serbia spoiled the party for the host nation with a 17-5 thumping of China in the final match of the night. Filip Filipovic connected on four shots for Serbia, while Milos Cuk collected a hat trick with a three-for-four performance. Five different players scored for the Chinese.