PRESS RELEASE 24.09.2003


Seven Teams to do battle at NORCECA Men's Continental Championship

Culiacán, México, September 24, 2003 - Seven teams will be competing for the honour of the XVIII NORCECA Men's Championship title and for two berths in the 2003 World Cup in Japan, in November when the Championship starts on September 25 and runs until September 30.

The event, to be played in the Pavillion of Culiacan University, will feature Cuba, Canada, and Puerto Rico in Pool A and USA, Mexico, Panama and Guatemala in Pool B.

Cuba and USA are expected to be the two teams to dispute the gold medal and claim the two qualification spots for the World Cup, which go to the first and second placed teams at the Championship, while Puerto Rico and Canada can not be taken lightly either.

Cuban coach Eliseo Ramos makes the trip to Mexico with basically the same squad that won the silver medal at the Pan American Games, with the only new face being spiker Henry Bell, who returns to the national team after recuperating from an injury, which forced him out of last year's NORCECA Championship.

Ramos will also have veterans Tomas Aldazabal and Pavel Pimienta to call upon while young stars such as Yasser Portuondo, Yosleider Cala and setters Maikel Salas and Javier Gonzalez round off a competitive squad.

USA meanwhile, coached by the respected Doug Beal, has a different look to the team which finished fourth at the Pan American Games, with the inclusion of Lloyd Ball being one of the main changes.

On day one, USA will open proceedings with a match against Panama, while Cuba goes against Puerto Rico and Mexico faces Guatemala, with the first team of each encounter considered favorites.