Pequeno peaks for Brazil
Japan, July 18, 2005 - What a day for Paula Pequeno!
First, the 23-year-old Brazilian helped her team beat
Italy 3-2 (25-20, 22-25, 25-21, 27-29, 15-7) and win the
World Grand Prix title for a fifth time. Then, at the
end of the 15-game, six-team Final Round, she was named
the Most Valuable Player.
No one could argue with that decision, as she had played
a key role in Brazil's impressive march to the
Pic: Paula Pequeno receives
Although Brazil, the defending World Grand Prix
champions, wasted three match points in a tense fourth
set, they dominated the decider. Fittingly enough it was
Pequeno who notched the last two points to spark wild
celebrations in the Canaries' camp.
Brazil finished with a 4-1 win-loss record to take home
the US$200,000 first prize.
"This victory is huge for us," said Brazil's head coach,
Jose Guimaraes. "We need more experience and welcome
more difficult international games like this."
Italy's Marco Bonitta was gracious in defeat.
"The result proved that Brazil is a better team than
Italy. They deserved to win," he said.
In the other games on Monday, Cuba clicked to beat the
Netherlands 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-20), and Olympic
champions China were much too powerful for Japan, taming
a frenzied home crowd with a 3-0 victory (25-23, 25-22,
25-23) in the evening encounter.
China have now beaten Japan in their last 13 meetings,
including the Athens Olympics quarter-finals, and
Japan's last win against their Asian rivals was in June
Brazil finished on top, followed by Italy (3-2), China
(3-2), Cuba (3-2), Japan (1-4) and the Netherlands
(1-4), and their victory completed a golden double in
2005 after their men's team won the World League title
in Belgrade earlier this month.