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PRESS RELEASE 07/29/2006

Puerto Rico beat Cuba for the men’s gold in Cartagena 

CARTAGENA, Colombia, July 29, 2006.- Puerto Rico scored a major upset in defeating Cuba 28-26, 25-22, 25-23 to take the gold medal in the men’s tournament of the XX Central American and Caribbean Games.

The Puerto Ricans revalidated the crown they had won in 2002 at El Salvador when Cuba did not participate. The victory marked the first time Puerto Rico has defeated Cuba in men’s volleyball since the ninth edition of the Games at Kingston, Jamaica in 1962.

Cuba, off to a great start in this year World League with 4-0 record after two weekends of the Intercontinental Rounds, was considered a heavy favorite to win the gold medal, but the Puerto Ricans used combined attacks and amazing defense to blank their opponents.

Hector Soto, elected as the Most Valuable Placer by the media covering the tournament, led Puerto Rico with 18 points and Jose Rivera added 12. Yasser Portuondo and Osmany Juantorena were the best Cubans with 12 and 10 points respectively.

 “With all the due respect that Cuba deserves, from now on, nobody can tell us anymore that our crown in El Salvador was because Cuba was not playing,” said Luis Ruiz, the Puerto Rican coach.

“To beat a team like that and by 3-0 is a great honor,” he added. “We have short time to celebrate the victory because we have to continue our preparation for the World Championship in Japan.”

In the match for the bronze medal, Venezuela prevailed in a tough battle against Dominican Republic with a 25-14, 20-25, 25-21, 22-25, 15-9 victory.

Tomas Ereu led Venezuela with 19 points and Carlos Tejeda followed with 14, Luis Diaz contributed 13, Ivan Marquez chipped in 12 and Freddy Cedeno tallied 11 points.

Elvis Contreras was the highest scorer of the match with 27 points for Dominican Republic and Jose Caceres added 18.

Cuban Eliseo Ramos, coach of Venezuela, said the match was not the best for both teams, “but the fans enjoyed it.”

“In the fifth set we changed the formation of our blocking and it paid good results,” said Ramos. “Anyway, I think the Dominicans have improved a lot since the last time I saw them in 2003.”

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