F I V B  FEDERATION INTERNATIONALE DE VOLLEYBALL
PRESS RELEASE 24.09.2003

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NORCECA Men's Championship - USA first to arrive in Mexico

September 24, 2003 - USA became the first team to arrive in Culiacán, México, the venue of the NORCECA Men's Continental Championship to be played from September 25-30.

The squad, coached by Doug Beal, includes players such as Lloyd Ball, Tom Hoff, Kevin Barnett, David McKenzie, Clay Stanley, Donald Suxho, Mackay Wilson and Jim Polster.

Seven teams from the region, Cuba, Panama, Puerto Rico, Canada, Guatemala and Mexico are the others, will battle not only for Continental Championship honors but for two tickets to the World Cup in Japan in November, which will be allocated to the top two place getters.

The rest of the teams were expected to arrive on Wednesday following a number of cancelled flights due to the influence of hurricane Marty in the area of Baja California.

The US, one of the favorites to reach the final, will play in Pool B with Mexico, Guatemala and Panama, while Cuba is shaping up as the favorite in Pool A, which includes Canada, Cuba and Puerto Rico.

The winners of each pool will automatically advance to the semifinal phase while teams, which finish second and third, will play off for the other two semifinal positions.

Honduras, the eighth team booked for the Championship, withdrew at the last minute.

On paper it may appear that the United States has an easy road to the NORCECA semifinals. Not so fast, says Beal.

“Mexico is a very good team, and they have the advantage of playing at home,” he cautioned. “Panama and Guatemala are not threatening, but Mexico has some talented players and we have not seen them in a while.”

Cuba and the United States are the traditional powers in the NORCECA zone, which encompasses North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

Since the first men's NORCECA Championship in 1969 (the tournament is held every other year in odd-numbered years), Cuba has won 13 out of 17 times. The United States has won the remaining four championships (1973, 1983, 1985 and 1999) and has finished second eight times.

Schedule:

Thursday
Panama vs USA
Cuba vs Puerto Rico
Mexico vs Guatemala

Friday
Guatemala vs USA
Canada vs Puerto Rico
Mexico vs Panama

Saturday
Panama vs Guatemala
Canada vs Cuba
Mexico vs USA

Sunday
Second and third playoff
Second and third playoff

Monday
Match for 5th Place
Semifinals

Tuesday
Match for the Bronze Medal
Match for the Gold Medal


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