PRESS RELEASE 08.01.2004


NORCECA Men - Cuba finish second and eliminate Mexico in process

CAGUAS, Puerto Rico, January 8, 2004 - The national team of Cuba completed an excellent performance in the preliminary round of the NORCECA Men's Olympic Qualifying tournament with a comfortable 25-22, 25-17, 23-25, 25-17 victory over Mexico.

With coach Roberto Garcia rotating his players during the match Cuba dominated the first two sets before a Mexican revival led by the offense of Juan Garcia and Jose Luis Martel gave the underdogs the third set.

Garcia gave some playing time to all his personnel, especially in the third set when a young and promising squad led by Ariel Gil, Yosleider Cala and veteran setter Nicolas Vives fought well. Once the top lineup was reintroduced in the fourth set, the game was over.

"It was a match of low quality for our team which was over confident knowing a semifinal spot was already guaranteed for us," Garcia said. "We definitely have to avoid that in the semifinals".

"Despite not making the semifinal phase, I feel OK with the performances of my players because we had very little time to work together," Mexican coach Jorge Azair said.

Yasser Portuondo again led the Cuban offense with 17 points and Tomas Aldazabal raised 14. For the Mexicans, Jose Luis Martell and Juan Garcia had 16 apiece.