Brazilian team gold medal
Tokyo, November 27, 2005 -- They hadn't been at their best. Other teams had given them a hard time.
But Brazil came through with a perfect 5-0 win-loss record to claim their second World Grand Champions Cup title at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Sunday.
"Great teams are made of that," said head coach Bernardo Rezende.
"At the right moment they stand up and do their things. It was a tough journey, and the feeling now is of relief because people expect us to win, win, win."
Brazil won five times, in fact, rounding off their campaign with a 3-0 victory (25-21, 25-20, 25-21) over African champions Egypt. The title was worth US$300,000, while USA (4-1) picked up US$150,000 for finishing second in the six-team inter-continental championship.
With 10 squad members in Europe and only two in Brazil, Rezende had only four days with his players, two in Italy and two in Japan, but their individual talent, fighting spirit and big-match experience shone through at the critical times.
In the day's opening game, USA swept China in straight sets 25-16, 25-21, 25-18.
USA's head coach, Hugh McCutcheon, said he was "very happy with the result and how we played", and that his players had been able to maintain their intensity and execution since hitting their stride in the third game against Italy.
Their only loss was to Brazil, 3-1, in the first game on the first day at Nagano.
"We have a lot of respect for Brazil, but they are absolutely beatable," he said. And he should know, as USA beat Brazil 3-2 in the Americas Cup final in August.
"With Brazil you have to finish when you have the opportunities," he added. "They are not untouchable. We feel we have a chance."
China's head coach, Di Anhe, said he noticed again the "huge gap" between the Asian teams and the rest of the world, and his target was to strengthen the team and achieve a top-10 finish at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"We felt how strong the rest of the world is," said Di, whose team went 0-5, with three of those losses in five sets.
In the 15th and last match of the five-day schedule, Italy beat Japan 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-20) to finish 3-2 and win the bronze medal, ahead of Japan, and US$125,000.
With a much-changed line-up, Italy lived up to their standing as world No. 2 to power past 16th-ranked Japan in straight sets for their first win in Tokyo after two defeats.
Final rankings: 1, Brazil; 2, USA; 3, Italy; 4, Japan; 5, Egypt, 6, China.
Individual awards: MVP, Andre Nascimento (Brazil); best scorer, Andre Nascimento (Brazil); best server, Abdallah Ahmed (Egypt); best spiker, Alessandro Fei (Italy); best blocker, Ryan Millar (USA); best setter, Ricardo Garcia (Brazil); best libero, Mirko Corsano (Italy).