Bulgaria was beaten in tie break and Cubans finished this tournament with a crazy joy. “It was a hard tournament” – said head coach of Cuban team Orlando S. Blackwood.
The beginning was more lucky for Bulgaria. They took a lead 5:1. After the first TTO, Cubans started to score more and more points and they equalized at 12:12. Thanks to Wilfredo Leon the world’s vice champions gained their first lead. After that the difference was only bigger and bigger and finally Cuba won 25:18.
The second part again started better for the hosts. Todor Aleksiev and Vladimir Nikolov were two the biggest heroes of Bulgarian team. The revenge was quick and the last point was scored by Georgi Bratoev making an ace.
Another set was interesting. Most of the time Cuba was the better side of the game, but near to the 20th point, Bulgaria made a big effort to stay in this part. Once again, the great experience of Vladimir Nikolov was priceless for Lions and they took a lead in the whole meeting 2:1.
It this fourth part Cuba showed some class and skills. They had advantage, but they lost it quickly. The whole set was most tied. However, from the tie 22:22 Cuba did it better and all was to be solved in tie break.
Cuba secured their result from the beginning of this last set. They scored 4 points more than their opponent and they did not let that slip away from their hands. They won this 15:12 and went really crazy happy about the bronze medal of the World League 2012.
The real hero of Cubans was Wilfredo Leon, who lasted till the end of the game, although he got injury in the middle of this match. However, he stayed and scored 17 points in total. The best scorer was Rolando Cepeda (22 points) and in Bulgarian team Nikolov and Aleksiev (21 points each).
Orlando Samuels Blackwood, head coach of Cuba: We are very satisfied with what we have achieved. It was a hard tournament for us as we have five very young players in the team. But we performed well during the League and we have victories against teams like Russia, Serbia and Brazil. I believe we deserve the bronze medals and I want to thank especially our captain Wilfredo Leon, who came back in play and helped the team in the decisive moments despite the injury. We won the fourth set which we had almost lost. I want to also thank the whole team for not giving up.
Wilfredo Leon, captain of Cuba: We are very happy with this victory. It was a very difficult and hard match for both teams. We won a medal – something we have not done in a long time. The fighting spirit of the team helped us win. I want to thank the organizers for the great work they have done here.
Nayden Naydenov, head coach of Bulgaria: I am sorry that we lost. Nevertheless, I want to congratulate the team because they fought until the very end. I want to express my special gratitude to those Bulgarian fans who supported the team until the last point and did not lose faith in us.
Vladimir Nikolov, captain of Bulgaria: Cuba managed to win a very though match in which we wanted the victory very much. Similarly to the 2010 World Championship, we had the lead of 2-1 and a match point, but we did not close the match. I regret this loss. However, I want to point out that it was the first time since 2006 that Bulgaria has been part of the World League Final Four. So, after all, it was a good tournament for the team.