03/06/2017ANTWERP - Dani Sánchez from Spain can rise no higher. In Antwerp, he won the battle for the Supercup and was elected Player of the Year for 2016. Add that to his world title from Bordeaux, and it effectively gave him the triple crown. In the Hilton arena, with some 500 spectators, the diminutive Catalan was the best in the Supercup battle with Dick Jaspers, which was awarded with a prize of 5000 Euro. That same amount was available for the Player of the Year, and again - even if by a small margin - it went to Dani. Frédéric Caudron and Dick Jaspers ended second and third in that election. The Hilton crowd rewarded the Spaniard at the end of the Saturday night with a thunderous applause. His win in the Supercup was the third in his career. Sánchez, who became world champion for the fourth time last year, reacted in front of the gala audience: ,,My year couldn’t get a better end.’’ The success of the Catalan player, a huge fan of Messi, Barcelona and Nadal, was launched in the 2016 World Cup circuit and reached its peak at the World championship in Bordeaux. There, in a fantastic ambiance, Sánchez defeated the upcoming Korean star Haeng-Jik Kim in the final match. This Saturday night at the Supercup Gala in Antwerp, watched amongst others by the UMB delegates Farouk Barky and Fernando Requena, he first played the match against Dick Jaspers (the overall World Cup winner) and on the late night Sánchez had to compete with Frédéric Caudron and Dick Jaspers in the election Player of the Year. Both times, the Spaniard came up as the glorious winner. The lightning fast battle for the Supercup, in short sets of seven caroms, had a slow start, with both players struggling for a few innings. Dani Sánchez built up a 3-0 lead in the match against Jaspers, decided over four winning sets (7-5, 7-5 and 7-0), but the Dutch star fought back. The next three sets went to Jaspers (7-1, 7-2 and 7-2), and the decision had to fall in the final set to equal innings. And for the second time in the 13 year history of the Supercup, like in 2005, when Dani Sánchez and Frédéric Caudron met, the final set went to a draw (7-7) and to a decision with penalties. The so-called shoot-out further raised the tension. Sánchez started with three from the break in the first, Jaspers also missed after three. The Spaniard then scored twice in the second and again Jaspers only made the break shot and the equalizer. The star players closed the trench war match in a thrilling ambiance: at the end, Sánchez remained the most cold-blooded. His two points were enough for victory, because Jaspers missed his second, played with his left arm. The first prize of the evening (5.000 Euros and a diamond pin) went to the Spaniard. ,,I had a quick win for grabs, but couldn’t finish it off ’’, Sánchez said later. Ludo Dielis, the Supercup organizer: ,,We all saw Sánchez, the world champion, die on his chair.’’ Dick Jaspers, praised for his brilliant, comeback, confessed. ,,In the tension at the end, I made a few precious mistakes. That has cost me the match.’’ Five players were initially nominated for Player of the Year: Dani Sánchez (Spain), Dick Jaspers (Netherlands), Frédéric Caudron (Belgium), Jérémy Bury (France) and Haeng-Jik Kim (Korea). The votes came from the federations and the fifty top players on the world ranking. Of the five contenders, three remained on the last night: Sánchez, Caudron and Jaspers. The difference between the three in the last round was minimal. The Spaniard finally was the winner with 165 points, followed by Caudron with 141 and Jaspers with 133. The first prize was again a check of 5.000 Euro and a trophy with 600 diamonds with a value of 50.000 Euros. The player who wins the trophy three times in five years, is the final owner. The evening at the Hilton arena was closed by Semih Sayginer’s spectacular magic show.