PRESS RELEASE 06.01.2004


NORCECA Men - Canada finally collect first win

CAGUAS, Puerto Rico, January 6, 2004 - After two successive defeats Canada finally managed to establish its overall game to record it's first win at the NORCECA Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournament with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-19) victory over Mexico in Puerto Rico on Tuesday.

Stelio DeRocco, the Canadian coach, used only a limited group of his players and they dominated from the start with effective blocking and good offensive combinations to blank the Mexicans.

"We were in a must win situation and we were able to establish our game right from the very beginning," DeRocco said. "Now we have to concentrate on the match against USA in what will be a big match as both squads know each other very well".

Once again Mexico played a great first set, but several errors in the final moments cost them dearly. In the second and third sets both sides played evenly until the technical time-out after eight points. From then on the power of Jason Haldane and Paul Duerden was decisive for the North Americans.

Jorge Azair, the Mexican coach, thought his team fought hard but committed too many mistakes in blocking and lost concentration. "My team needs more cooperation from the big players in order to elevate the overall performance of the squad," he said.

Mexico will take in a rest day on Wednesday and close the preliminary round against Cuba on Thursday, the last match for its captain Ivan Contreras who has to report to his club, Knack Roeselare of Belgium, for the European Champions League.

Haldane was the best Canadian scorer with 13 points, Steve Brinkman had 11 and Duerden chipped in with 10. For Mexico once again, Jose Luis Martell led the scoring with 11 and Contreras contributed with 10.