PRESS RELEASE 21.12.2003


Cuba one step away from Olympics

December 21, 2003 - Three time Olympic champions Cuba advanced to the gold medal match and one step away from the Athens Olympic Games with a 3-1 (20-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-11 ) victory over Puerto Rico on Sunday.

Nancy Carrillo led the Cubans with 14 points with Zoila Barros and Yumilka Ruiz adding 13 and 12 respectively. Karina Ocasio had 13 and Eva Cruz scored 12 for Puerto Rico.

"It was ugly in the first set when Puerto Rico had a near perfect blocking and our reception failed," said Luis Felipe Calderon, the Cuban coach. "We could not respond and it was a tough situation."

"Then we made the much needed adjustments and in the next three sets our better physical condition was a key ingredient," he added.

David Aleman, the Puerto Rican coach, said: "We went out to play hard and battle. We did our best relying on our good fundamental execution but in the end the power of Cuba gave them the victory."

The Puerto Rican Cruz considered the amount of mistakes as the key factor.

"We minimized our mistakes in the first set and at the beginning of the second, but then our errors were piling up and the Cubans came back strong and played as the world class team they are."