During this first weekend of World League, Cuban national team has reasons both to celebrate and worries.
Their first match was pretty quick and simple. With poorly playing Japan, Cubans had no problems with winning three sets in a row. Only the second set was a little more exciting, when Japan had a leading for a long time, but their luck ran out when Fukuzawa dished up a net serve on Cuba’s set point, making it 25:22, ending a set that, by all accounts, was not as close as it looked. Cuba had better attack, block and service. Japan’s were trying to make it up in defense, but it was not enough and after three sets, Cuba had 3 points in the table of pool A.
Japan – Cuba 0:3 (22:25, 26:28, 20:25)
Cuba coach Orlando Samuells Blackwood: “First of all I’d like to commend my players. There was not enough time between their arrival here in Japan and this game today. But they responded well, and were in good condition. But Japan did well. But we stole the second set, and that was great for us. We got many point through strong blocking as well.”
Japan coach Tatsuya Ueta: “First it was difficult for us to to side out today. Hernandez and Leon have great spikes, and we couldn’t dig against that. We need to try to dig better.”
Today Cuba did not go so well anymore. This time their rival was Serbia, which started this match really well with a safe distance. Cuba had some chances to catch their up, but Kovacevic and Stankovic carried on the good game and thei gave their team a lead once again (16:11) and it was enough for this part. Cuba didn’t give up and with a great help of Hernandez, they managed to beat Serbia in the next set. The rest of this game was really tough. Both teams were fighting well and Cubans had even a set ball in 4th set, but Serbia captain Bojan Janic came off the bench to clinch the match with a tip, taking the set 27:25 and Serbia got all three points and Cuba was left with nothing this time.
Cuba – Serbia 1:3 (19:25, 25:20, 25:27, 25:27)
Serbia Coach Igor Kolakovic: “In my opinion Cuba and Serbia played a very good game today. In some parts we played at a very high level. We’re very satisfied with this victory. We played a tough game with Cuba, and it was very close during the whole game. In our game we cut down on some mistakes, especially in attack and I think that’s good for us. We were very patient today.”
Cuba coach Orlando Samuells Blackwood: “I can say that today’s match was not a bad game. At beginning we were not so good, but later we got better. The difference in this game was that we had more mistakes than they did. We’re young so we will take this loss as a good experience that we can bring forward into future games.”