August 04, 2003 - Cuba defeated Puerto Rico 3-1 (31-29, 25-22, 22-25, 25-17) in the men's competition of the Pan American Games confirming its condition as a giant in the continent.
The first set was a tough battle from the very beginning with strong offense from Cuba's Yasser Portuondo. With the score tied at 29-all following a big spike from Puerto Rica's Hector Soto, the serve of Rene Estevez landed in the net and Javier Gonzalez followed up with his second ace to finish the set.
In the second set, Puerto Rico erased a four point deficit at 16-20 to tie to game up before another spike from Soto gave them a one point lead but then Cuba and Tomas Aldazabal grabbed back the advantage and two shots from Pavel Pimienta wrapped up the second set.
Puerto Rico took the third set via the offense of Soto again, who took on more of the offensive duties aided by Estevez.
The fourth set saw Aldazabal put on a show of fireworks with his lightning spikes and the match finished with a cannon shot from Osmany Juantorena.
“I think that our team was not in the usual rhythm and made too many mistakes specially in serving,”said Eliseo Ramos, the Cuban coach. “I don’t want to take the credit away from Puerto Rico but I think that we had to win more clearly.”
“We have to play at another level against teams like USA, Brazil, Canada and Venezuela,”he added. “Only playing solid Volleyball will beat those teams.”
Cuban captain Pavel Pimienta said: “We have to do everything we did in our training. I agree with coach Ramos about the strong rivals in this competition but this is a young team where 90 percent of the players are in their first Pan Am Games.”