May 22, 2003 - The Portuguese men's team left Wednesday enroute to Italy where they will contest the first games of Pool B of the Intercontinental phase of the 2003 World League in Perugia on Friday night and Benevento on Sunday.
The head trainer of the national selection, Prof. Juan Diaz, discloses that his team has the will to surprise the Squadra Azzurra, but does not underestimate the powerful adversary, the biggest winner in the World league with eight titles.
"We are aware that Italy has many good players and even if some of their most experienced players are not starting in the World League, they have other younger, but equally experienced ones who also play well. For our part, we will field the best possible team and will fight for victory," Diaz said, adding that his team always goes on to the court thinking about winning.
He said it would be a boost to the team if they were able to win at least one of the two matches against Italy and close the weekend at 1-1. Diaz said the team was motivated and stable. "In this edition of the World League our objective is to finish with a better result than last year and to perform well against Italy and Brazil," Diaz said.
Roberto Reis (Esmoriz G. C.) has already faced Brazil during the 2002 World League and Italy in the World Championship last year and is well acquainted with both teams. "They produce the best players in the world in the Italian League and we might get some benefit from the fact that the Italian Superliga has only been over for a few days," Reis said. He added that although "Italy is always Italy" the Portuguese team also has very promising young players capable of lifting their game. The team has also just returned from a good period of training in Cuba and feel well prepared, he said.