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Cuba and Dominican Republic favourites in Men’s Pool P

Teams of hosts Cuba, Dominican Republic, Barbados and Suriname are to compete in Men's Pool P at Ciudad Deportiva Coliseum in Havana
Havana, Cuba, May 21, 2014 – Teams of Cuba and Dominican Republic go out as favorites to determine the winner of the ticket to the FIVB Men’s World Championship in Poland as the NORCECA Pool P Qualifier gets underway on Wednesday at Ciudad Deportiva Coliseum in Havana.

Cuba is currently seventh in the world rankings and No. 2 in NORCECA while the Dominicans are 29th and 6th, respectively.
The 52nd world-ranked Barbados (12th in the region) and 62nd Suriname (23rd at continental level) complete the four-team field.

The Cuban side is fresh back from a friendly series against Mexico played in Mexico City and has passed through a rigorous training since then at Ciudad Deportiva Coliseum, the playing venue with a seating capacity of 15,000 spectators.

“This week of training and scrimmage matches exceeded the expectations and the main objective was to get playing rhythm since the team had not played since the NORCECA Continental Tournament in Canada and needed to put things together,” Cuba’s Coach Rodolfo Sanchez said.

“We won two matches via 3-0 and the last one 3-2 when I used mostly the bench players,” Sanchez added.

“Everyone contributed with their grain of sand and all received playing opportunities but I will maintain the regular starting lineup that has been playing for months,” said Sanchez, who played for the Cuba men’s team that won the FIVB World League title in 1998.

The regular squad of Cuba consists of opposite Rolando Cepeda the captain of the team, Osmany Uriarte and Javier Jimenez, outside hitters, Isbel Mesa and David Fiel, middle blockers, Leandro Macías, setter, and Yonder Martinez as libero.

Sanchez said the priority goal is to win the ticket to Poland and the calendar of his team includes the Pan American Cup, a qualifier to the FIVB 2015 World League, to be played in Tijuana and Mexicali, Mexico, and the Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz, Mexico.

“I know the teams are coming to Havana with the same objectives so we have to go out every day to play hard,” Sánchez said. “The Dominicans are our main rivals but we know them and won 3-2 the last time both teams were in the same court last year at the NORCECA Tournament.”

Last year, the Dominicans won Pool K with an overwhelming 25-10, 25-6, 25-14 victory over Panama in Road Town, Tortola. They had won Pool C in 2012 by defeating Haiti 25-14, 25-16, 25-21 in Santo Domingo.

The schedule of the competition is as follows:

May 21
15:00        Dominican Republic v Suriname
17:00        Cuba v Barbados

May 22
15:00        Dominican Republic v Barbados
17:00        Suriname v Cuba

May 23
15:00        Barbados v Suriname
17:00        Cuba v Dominican Dominican Republic

May 24
15:00        Third Place v Fourth Place
17:00        First Place v Second Place


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