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Coaches comment ahead of start of the final tournament

PINAR DEL RIO, Cuba, November 9, 2017.- The technical directors of the teams aiming to the last two tickets for the FIVB Men's World Championship 2018 expressed their impressions ahead of the Qualification Tournament, group B, of NORCECA, to be played at  November 19 Hall of the westernmost Cuban province.

Ramón Hernández, coach of Puerto Rico: "Several players could not make the trip because of commitments with their clubs and they had already made an effort to go to Colorado Springs, but it was unsuccessful because of Hurricane Maria, only one will attend, but the focus is the group, which is well balanced with a good combination of veterans and young people, gives me the peace of mind that we can grab one of the two seats.

It will be a fairly even tournament, Cuba because at home is one of the favorites, also Puerto Rico, since we played very well in the Pan American Cup in which we won 3-1, so we have very good options; Mexico in the zone is equally dangerous, has played a lot this year and Guatemala has been improving, preparing for the Central American Games. It promises to be a very interesting tournament, all hopeful to qualify for the world championship.

Our strength is a team that has been playing well, has a lot of stability in all the areas of the game and players with a lot of international experience. If we keep training we will continue improving to face Mexico, I know it will be a complicated game, but there will be a collective effort, everyone has to contribute to our cause."

The Cuban Reider Lucas Mora, coach of Guatemala: "The goal is to try to make as many games as possible, we will face three very good rivals in the area, two attended the Olympic Games in Rio last year, Cuba and Puerto Rico, but we want to continue developing and prepare for other events with our focus on the Central American Games in December.

We are happy to have reached this stage, because we had to meet goals to move forward and now we know that it will be to collide with countries of the first level in the world, but very happy and we will take advantage to continue improving and the boys accumulate more experience".

Jorge Miguel Azair, coach of Mexico: "We have a great aspiration to qualify although we know that Cuba as always is a powerful team and that Puerto Rico has grown a lot, in the Pan American Cup they did very well to be runners-up, but traditionally in this type of competition when we are playing an Olympic or world classification the boys have gone deep to overcome them.

This event is going to be very complicated for us, however we also know that we can reach the World Championship, everything depends on the first two games, mainly tomorrow against the Puerto Ricans. We will have three players hired in Europe who arrive today, but they have been playing together for many years, hopefully it will not affect us that much."

Nicolás Vives, coach of Cuba: "First of all our goal is to classify but the fundamental task is to win the competition, the boys are very stimulated, training very well, we are all working hard, we have to make some adjustments but nothing significant.

Mexico and Puerto Rico are adversaries we must take very careful, with players of experience, we cannot trust any rival, we must play from beginning to end, and we want to give this gift to our people who follow us and want volleyball Cuban continues to harvest triumphs."