July 21, 2003 - San Juan - The Puerto Rico men’s and women’s national teams start their final preparation this week for the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, which runs from August 1-17.
The men's side is due to play five friendly matches against Canada while the women's team face Poland in another five friendly encounters. These matches will be held in the two best arenas on the island, Roberto Clemente Coliseum (capacity 13,000) and Guillermo Angulo Coliseum (8,000).
Both teams will be looking to continue the good form they have shown of late with the Puerto Rico men's squad, led by Héctor Soto. are coming off winning their first gold medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games in 64 years, last year. Meanwhile the women's team finished in tenth place in last year's World Championship in Germany defeating the likes of the Dominican Republic and Argentina along the way.
The Pan American Games Volleyball competition will be held in a new Volleyball Palace from August 3 to 16. The men's draw sees Puerto Rico open against Cuba on August 4 nefore meeting 2003 World League champions Brazil and Canada in their other preliminary matches. The other pool is composed of the Dominican Republic, USA, Venezuela and Barbados.
“ Our goal is to be in contention for a medal so we want to make sure we start with a win over Cuba in the first match," said Carlos Beltrán from the Puerto Rico Volleyball Federation. "The players have much enthusiasm and know that the goal is real”.
In the women's draw, Puerto Rico starts against Peru before taking on USA and Brazil. The three time Olympic champions, Cuba participate in Pool B with Dominican Republic, Mexico and Venezuela.