Puerto Rico and Cuba complete the teams qualified to the 2018
PINAR DEL RÍO, Cuba, November 12, 2017 - Puerto Rico and Cuba
claimed the last two tickets for the FIVB Men's World
Championship 2018 at the NORCECA Group B Qualifying Tournament,
which ended with a sensational match between the two teams and a
three-way tie that included Mexico all with 10 points.
After the needed 3-0 sensational victory of Cuba over Puerto
Rico (25-21, 25-22, 30-28), the two top placed were decided by
points-ratio with Puerto Rico (221-191 / 1,157) and Cuba
(218-194 / 1,124) finishing ahead of Mexico (204-194 / 1,052).
Fourth place was the battling Guatemala team (0-3).
Cuban Miguel David Gutiérrez (20), followed by teammates Miguel
A. López (16) and Javier O. Concepción (10), contributed to the
close win by the Cuban side, while Ezequiel Cruz (17) was the
only one to reach double digits for Puerto Rico.
The action by Cuba had nothing to do with their pale show on
Saturday, when they were overwhelmed by Mexico (0-3) and forced
to sweep today against the Puerto Ricans, whom they outscored in
attacks (45-36) and blocking (8- 3), and tied in serving aces
with four each.
Ramón Hernández, Puerto Rican coach, could not hide his tears
while acknowledging that "this is the greatest emotion I could
feel in my career, although it was an extremely strong
tournament and despite the setback against Cuba in a great
battle, we were able to win it and achieve the world
"This victory is for our people who are following us despite the
difficult situation they are experiencing," he said under
His captain Angel Perez, happy for the collective triumph and
the possibility of being in his fourth world championship,
expressed that "if they call me to the ranks I will respond to
the homeland, we wanted to win the last game but we fulfilled,
and I am double happy because I have Cuban blood, my whole
family is precisely from this province of Pinar del Río."
The local coach, Nicolás Vives, said that "I expected this
reaction from my boys because we work to continue making
achievements for Cuban volleyball, I think all the support we
received from the Federation, the INDER and here in this
magnificent venue did not deserve other demonstration that the
one we had today."
Liván Osoria, Cuban captain, assured that "the team came out
with its usual claw and decision, we could not lose this
opportunity for which our country made so much effort to reach
the World Championship".
Puerto Rico and Cuba join the NORCECA teams of the United
States, the Dominican Republic and Canada, winners in that order
of the September Qualification in Colorado Springs.
The others teams going to the World Championship in Bulgaria and
Italy are the two host teams Poland as defending champion;
France, Netherlands, Slovenia, Russia, Serbia, Finland and
Belgium from Europe; Brazil and Argentina from South America;
Japan, Australia, Iran and China from Asia and Tunisia, Egypt
and Cameroon from Africa.