May 21, 2003 - In a tough game lasting nearly two hours, the Portuguese national men's team beat Cuba 3-0 in their final warm-up game in Porto on Tuesday night as both teams finished their preparations for their opening World League matches this weekend.
The University Hall in Coimbra - 120km south from Porto - was the venue for more than 2,000 spectators to watch the 25-23, 25-23, 25-23 win, which was Portugal's first in a three-match series against Cuba following two earlier 3-0 defeats as coach Juan Diaz utilised all his squad and gave all his players a chance to play. In a decisive test before both teams start their World League campaigns, where Portugal travel to Italy and Cuba visit Bulgaria, the quality of the volleyball was high as some long rallies entertained the spectators.
"The match was a good test for the team, as we forced the Cubans to make some mistakes and we won the match," Diaz said. "I think the players forgot quickly that they did not qualify for the European Championship finals and they are now ready for the tough job in the World League".
Diaz, "the master," has named his 12 players for Portugal's Group B matches against Italy in Peruggia on Friday and Benevento on Sunday including rookie João Malveiro. "To be for the first time among the 12 Portuguese players is for me one goal achieved," Malveiro said. "I know is difficult to get in with João José and Bira, but I will do my best and if I will have a chance, you can be sure that I will give it 200 per cent".
Portugal 12: Eurico Peixoto, Adriano Paço, Nuno Pinheiro, Carlos Teixeira, Manuel Silva, Jorge Alves, Roberto Reis, Hugo Gaspar, Ubirajara Pereira, João Malveiro, Fábio Milhazes and João José.
Cuba play Bulgaria in Varna on Friday and Saturday in Group C matches.