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Brazil, Cuba & Poland hold finals tickets after Round Four

Lausanne, Switzerland, June 19, 2005 – With the winner’s of each of the three pools in the 2005 World League Intercontinental Round joining hosts Serbia and Montenegro in the four-team Final Round, defending champions Brazil, world number 16 Cuba and European heavyweights Poland are in pole position in their respective groups in the race for qualifying for the finals, following the completion of Round Four on Sunday.

Brazil, with star players Giba and Gustavo making their first World League appearance of the year, won the battle of the Pool A leaders with 3-1 (26-24, 25-23, 20-25, 25-18) and 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-23) victories over Portugal as the world number played at home for the first time with more than 19,000 fans turning out in support for each match.
Pic: Tight at the top - Cuba split their matches with Bulgaria in Pool B
"We played much better (in the second match) than in the first but the team still made errors,” Brazil captain Ricardo said. “We need more concentration to minimize these mistakes."

Brazil now lead Pool A with seven wins and one defeat with Portugal second with a 5-3 record while Venezuela, who did the double over winless Japan 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-20) and 3-0 (25-21, 25-21, 25-21) in Tokyo, stay in contention in third spot with four wins and four defeats.

In Pool B, despite a shock defeat at the hands of Bulgaria in Havana on Friday, Cuba still top the group just ahead of Italy on set ratio difference with both sides boasting a 5-3 record. Cuba lost the first match 3-1 (25-22, 19-25, 25-20, 25-22) before winning the second 3-2 (27-25, 21-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-9).

Meanwhile, Italy did the double over France in what were two impressive victories on away soil. The 3-2 (19-25, 18-25, 26-24, 25-17, 15-13) and 3-2 (21-25, 25-21, 25-22, 24-26, 15-13) victories saw Italy show great determination and discipline to join Cuba with a 5-3 record. Bulgaria have now moved into third place ahead of France only on set ratio difference as both sides now have a 3-5 record.

In Pool C, Poland suffered only their second defeat of the competition losing their second match to Greece in Athens 3-1 (25-18, 17-25, 26-24, 25-16) on Sunday. However, their first victory on Friday (3-2 (19-25, 25-21, 25-18, 18-25, 15-13)) moved them to 6-2 and has given them a handy two-win cushion over their opponents. Greece (4-4) are second ahead of Serbia and Montenegro (4-4), who welcomed back key players Ivan Miljkovic, Andrija Geric and captain Nikola Grbic, while Argentina have a 2-6 record after losing twice 3-1 (22-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-21) in Belgrade and 3-2 (25-21, 32-30, 27-29, 17-25, 34-32) Novi Sad.

With the Final Round starting on July 8 in Belgrade, the run into the final weekend of the Intercontinental Round is heating up nicely with only two rounds remaining.
 
 
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