PRESS RELEASE 08.01.2004


NORCECA Men - USA finish with perfect record

CAGUAS, Puerto Rico, January 8, 2003 - Tournament favourites USA finished the preliminary round of the NORCECA Men's Olympic Qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico without tasting the bitterness of a loss after blanking the home side in just over an hour 25-18, 25-17, 25-17 for their fourth win of the tournament.

With the semifinal positions for the tournament already decided - the Americans will meet Canada while Puerto Rico face Cuba - both coaches used the match to prepare for the more important games ahead.

Doug Beal, the American coach, started with a lineup of reserve players before going on to use his entire squad.

"This was a match to get all the pieces ready," Beal said. "Now is when the tournament is starting with the semifinals and the big match (the final) for the ticket to Greece".

Puerto Rico clawed their way back from a big deficit during the first set but in the next two coach Luis Ruiz also introduced new players.

"We were very relaxed and I am not happy with that mood," said Ruiz. "But now I only want to think about the semifinals".

More good news for USA was that Clayton Stanley's hand injury is not as serious as it was thought to be. He came back after two days of rest and led all the scorers with 19 points. Hector Soto scored nine for Puerto Rico.