Men's competition, Carolina
From 9 June To 13 June 2004

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Argentina & Brazil for Puerto Rican Gold
CAROLINA, PUERTO RICO, June 13, 2004 - It will be Argentina versus Brazil in the finals of the US$180,000 Carolina Open as seventh-seeded Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde upset second-seeded Franco Neto and Tande Ramos of Brazil in the second of two semi-final matches here Sunday.

By advancing to their 12th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal match in 40 career starts together, Baracetti and Conde scored a 28-26 and 21-18 win over Franco and Tande in 70 minutes. The Argentineans, who have won six international gold medals together, will be seeking their first title in an "open" event since winning in Switzerland in 2002.

Pedro Cunha, who celebrated his 21st birthday Thursday, and Pará Ferreira of Brazil won the first semi-final by scoring a 21-15, 15-21 and 15-10 win over sixth-seeded Dax Holdren and Stein Metzger of the United States in 59 minutes. The 12th-seeded Cunha and Pará have advanced to their first international final in five starts together.

"This was a very important win for us," said Baracetti after the match. "The most important thing is that it helps our confidence as we have really been up-and-down with our play this season. The title match will be our fourth meeting with a team from Brazil this week, so we have had to play well to reach the finals."

Baracetti and Conde only defeat in the sixth SWATCH-FIVB World Tour stop this season was to Franco and Tande in their opening match Saturday when the Brazilians scored a 16-21, 21-17 and 15-11 win. The Argentineans eliminated fifth-seeded Fred Souza/Harley Marques and top-seeded Marcio Araujo/Benjamin Insfran later Saturday.

Sunday's final will mark the second meeting this season between the two teams with Cunha and Pará winning 21-11, 14-21 and 15-11 in a 57-minute match in China. Baracetti and Conde finished 13th in the May 21-23 event while the Brazilians captured the bronze medal for Cunha's biggest "pro" check ($7,000) until today's prize.

The gold medal match up will mark the 20th-time that the two South American countries have competed for a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour "open" title in 153 events. Brazil leads the head-to-head match up in finals 11-8 with the last time the two countries competed for a gold medal was last July in Norway when Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos defeated Baracetti and Conde for the title.

The Carolina Open concludes later Sunday with the medal matches. The gold medal winners will share the $27,000 first-place prize. The SWATCH-FIVB World Tour returns to Europe next week for the final four Olympic qualifying events in Switzerland, Germany, Norway and Mallorca.