Olympic Games Bid at Stake in Long Beach
Long Beach, California, May 6, 2012 – Cuba and United
States are the heavy favorites in the field as the No. 5 and No.
6 ranked teams in the FIVB world ranking. However, neither team
is taking anything for granted in this crucial event.
Coaches of the eight teams expressed their feelings and goals
prior to the start of the competition being held May 7-12 at the
Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, California.
“NORCECA is always a strong tournament and we have to do our
best to qualify for the Olympics,” Cuba Coach Orlando Samuels
said. “We are well prepared for this event as we played matches
versus Argentina a few weeks ago. The stages of preparations are
complete and we are ready.”
“We are excited about what we have done in a short time after
our players returned from their club teams,” United States Coach
Alan Knipe said. “We had the opportunity to bring in Argentina
for a couple exhibition matches and our Red-Blue scrimmage this
past Friday. These matches provided us some things to shoot for
and evaluation. We are excited to get started.”
“This is it,” Canada Coach Glenn Hoag said. “Our team has
matured nicely. It is a young group with only a couple veterans.
Our aim is to grow as a team and going to the Olympics would be
great. We are taking this tournament one day at a time, one play
at a time.”
Puerto Rico, which typically has fielded a strong team in
NORCECA and FIVB events in the current Olympic quadrennial, has
faced some adversity in its preparation for this tournament.
“The team is having some situations,” Puerto Rico coach Carlos
Cardona said. “We were not able to have any friendly matches.
Our best player, Hector Soto, has not recovered 100 percent from
an injury, so our decision was to not bring him. How we finish
in this tournament will depend on how his replacement, Ezequiel
Cruz, and the 4 or 5 other young players compete. I don’t want
to choose a favorite to win the tournament, but the strongest
teams are USA, Cuba and Canada.”
“Our dream, and it is a dream, is to qualify for the Olympic
Games,” Mexico Coach Jorge Miguel Azair said. “However, to play
in the semifinals by finishing second in our pool is our goal.
We know our team is not at the same level of Cuba and USA.”
“The Dominican Republic is bringing its best players – we are
here to compete,” Dominican Republic Coach Jacinto Campechano
said. “In each match we will be fighting to the death. We are in
the strongest pool with Cuba, Canada and Puerto Rico. It may
seem like David versus Goliath matches, but we don’t think that
“Technically, we have been practicing for three months,” Costa
Rica Coach Cesar Salas said. “Our goal is to give our best
efforts versus Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago, while giving a good
match against the USA. Our mission is to finish second or third
in Group A. Going into the tournament, I believe the USA is the
“I know this tournament will be tough and competitive every
day,” Trinidad & Tobago Coach Gideon Dickson said. “We would
like to produce some surprises in this tournament. We are happy
to represent our country and the Caribbean region at this