Aug. 6, 2012
LONDON - Both Aleksa Saponjic's Serbia squad and John Mann's United States' team advanced to the quarterfinals of the London Olympics men's water polo competition after the final round of preliminary play Monday (Aug. 6) at the Olympic Park Water Polo Arena. Saponjic, who will be a sophomore on Kirk Everist's Golden Bears this fall, helped Serbia improve its record to 4-0-1 and finish first in Group B with a 12-4 win over Romania. Mann's U.S. team (3-2), despite falling to Hungary, 11-6 Monday, still advanced after finishing fourth in Group B. The top four teams in Groups A and B move on to Wednesday's quarterfinals.
Saponjic played in a little more than nine minutes in Serbia's win, recording one field block and winning the sprint to start the fourth period. Mann notched a goal in the American's loss, finding the back of the net with 1:30 left in the first half on an assist from Layne Beaubien to get his team within 5-2. He ended up playing a little more than 14 minutes of the contest and also added a field block.
Next up for Saponjic is Wednesday's contest versus Australia, while Mann will play against undefeated Croatia (5-0). If Serbia defeats Australia it would play the winner of Italy and Hungary in the semifinals. If Team USA upends Croatia, it would play the winner of Spain and Montenegro for a chance to medal.
Mann has now tallied three goals in the Olympics - versus Romania, Great Britain and Hungary. Saponjic notched a goal in Serbia's 21-7 win over host Great Britain, July 31.
Mann helped the Golden Bears to the 2006 NCAA title and was the recipient of the Peter J. Cutino Award as the nation's top collegiate player. Saponjic was a 2011 honorable mention All-American as a freshman for Cal. Saponjic and Mann are the first Cal Olympic men's water polo players since four Bears - Gavin Arroyo, Chris Humbert, Sean Nolan and Chris Oeding - were members of the 2000 United States National Team at the Sydney Games.