Cuba to face Canada for the Pan Am Cup Final Six title

TEPIC, Nayarit, Mexico, July 16, 2022.- Cuba won their semifinal match to Puerto Rico 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-16) and will face Canada for the Men’s Pan American NORCECA Final Six title at the Amado Nervo Auditorium of Tepic, Nayarit.

Cuba will face Canada who earlier defeated the United States in the other semifinal in five exciting sets. Puerto Rico will play for the bronze medal against the United States. Both matches are happening on Sunday.

Cuba came from a four-point deficit (14-18) in the first set, keeping Puerto Rico on the edge to get the lead. The next two sets Cuba’s offense inhibited Puerto Rico to perform like they did in the beginning.

Cuba controlled every element of the game, with a 39-25 advantage in kills, 8-7 in blocks and 7-4 in service points. Cuba committed one less error than Puerto Rico (20-21).

Cuba’s offense was topped by outside hitter Osniel Mergarejo with 13 points on 6 kills, 2 blocks and the most aces with 5 points. Opposite hitter Jesus Herrera scored 11 points on 10 kills and one ace, accompanied by outside hitter Julio Cardenas and middle blocker Simon Robertlandy who added 9 and 8 points respectively.

Outside hitters Klistan Lawrence and Pedro Molina tallied 7 points each led Puerto Rico.

Outside hitter Cuban Osniel Mergarejo celebrates scoring against Canada

Julio Cesar Cardenas, Outside hitter of Cuba: “We know each other well with Puerto Rico and that’s why the first set was demanding, sometimes it’s difficult to get organized and we were a bit relaxed. We had to play stronger to cause the difficulties. We’ve been together for a short time; we are playing in international leagues and this tournament has served as an adjustment and move forward. Against Canada, if we do our offense and defense, I believe we can win the title, it will be exciting”.

Arnel Cabrera, Libero of Puerto Rico: “The team’s missing a bit of experience and managing the game mentally, which is important in every sport. After losing the first set we lost concentration in the rest of the match. Tomorrow against the United States for third place we must erase this match, keep healthy because it’s been a demanding tournament, try to mentalize and study our strategy”.

Nicolas Vives, Head Coach of Cuba: “Puerto Rico is an excellent team. In the first set we were a bit relaxed, the guys got into better rhythm, and we closed the next sets. The victory is what’s important. Now we must play well, play tactically, and do the best possible to discuss the championship against Canada; historically they’ve been a good team, may the best one win”.