CAGUAS, Puerto Rico, January 7, 2003 - In the big match of the day for local fans Cuba beat Puerto Rico 3-1 (25-18, 17-25, 25-19, 25-23) in front of a sell out crowd at the NORCECA Men's Olympic Qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico. More than 6,000 "aficionados" saw the Cubans prevail to improve its record to two wins and one defeat for the tournament while Puerto Rico now sit at 1-2.
The match was very tense from the opening whistle with both teams trading the first two sets with comfortably margins before Cuban coach Roberto Garcia sent the young attacker Osmany Juantorena into the action in the third set and the teenager did not disappoint displaying an effective offense to lead his side to the set victory.
In the fourth set, Puerto Rico made some adjustments in its lineup and matched the Cubans through the spiking of Ossie Antonetti and Victor Rivera but in the end, the power of Yasser Portuondo and Tomas Aldazabal proved to be the decisive factor for Cuba.
"It was a great game as we expected," said Garcia. "Both teams put on a good show for the fans. It is very good for the region to have Puerto Rico playing at this level, today we watched moments of world class Volleyball".
"It was a very tense match with plenty of options, but we could not resist the Cuban surge at the end of the fourth set," said the Puerto Rican coach Luis Ruiz. "The match is good preparation for Thursday's match against USA".
Portuondo led the Cubans with 19 points, followed by Aldazabal and Juantorena with 18 and 11 respectively. Rivera had 19 and Hector Soto 17 for Puerto Rico.
On Thursday, Mexico meet Cuba and Puerto Rico face USA in the final matches of the preliminary phase.