Guaynabo, who will make their debut in the FIVB tournament, will face international heavyweights such as Sada Cruzeiro – the 2013 FIVB Volleyball Men's Club Championship winners, Brazil’s Super League champions, winners of the South American Championship and holders of Copa Mineiros of Brazil - in addition to Argentina’s UPCN, Russia’s Belogorie Belgorod, Tunisia’s Esperance, Iran’s Matin Varamin, Italy’s Trentino Volley and Qatar’s Al-Rayyan.
Guaynabo has a great opportunity to face the best professional clubs of the world with a short amount of time to prepare according to coach and ex-setter Javier Gaspar.
“At this time, we are going to have practice Tuesdays and Thursdays, as specified by the national team coach David Alemán because we have many of our players on the national team. We have a short amount of time and I would like to add on one day of practice per week so we can get more players prepared for this tournament,” Gaspar said to Primera Hora’s newspaper.
According to the head coach, if he can’t increase the days of practice before the beginning of the competition he will be at a disadvantage because many of the teams participating ended their campaign recently. Gaspar added that the team will have to be efficient with the little training they will have.
The Mets management submitted a preliminary list of 18 players, which includes members of the champion team; Edwins Montaño, Enrique Escalante, Dennis del Valle, Pablo Guzman, Jackson Rivera, Jonathan King, Jorge Alifonso and two-time MVP and setter, Angel Pérez. National Team players Fernando Morales, Ezequiel Cruz, Sequiel Sánchez and Mannix Román will be added to the this list.
Gaspar, however, started the training without his two setters (Pérez and Morales) because both of them are active in Austria's and Russia’s Volleyball League respectively. The 12 players that will form the final team to the Men’s Club World Championship will be defined by a cut.
"Fernando is not over yet, like Angel, and that's a slightly worrying situation,” he said. “Both are out of Puerto Rico and that presents a challenge in terms of what we can do in training. Jorge de Jesús, our alternate setter will train with us, as Arturo Iglesia, one of our youngest players that have great skills and are going to help us when we need them, at this time we are a little bit hands tied with this situation.”
Similarly, Guaynabo is unsure whether they can have international players or not. At one point, the Mets management announced the possibility of having the Cuban spiker, Leonardo Leyva and the newly nationalized opposite Maurice Torres. Despite the challenges, they will face in the fort coming weeks. Gaspar said the key to the Mets is to maintain a stable reception and well defensive line, which can receive most of the strong serves that the other teams will portray.
“Our goal and key, as the past tournament in the island, is to maintain a strong and stable K-1 (Reception and first spike after the rivals serve),” he said. “I assume we will see many strong serves that we aren’t used to here in Puerto Rico, so is something we are going to work on. We have to enhance our serve and reception so the setter can improve a fast game with the spikers, this way they can create some struggle to the other team. The teams we are facing are higher than us so we have to be fast enough to make points.
“The first games are very important for us and we need to maintain a high level because they don’t know much about us. As the tournament advances and the scouting process begin, everything becomes much harder for everyone. We have to reach a great position throughout the pools so we can move to the next round.”
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