The Panamerican Handball Federation (PHF) Junior Championships will take place this week in Asuncion, Paraguay. Handball Junior Championships teams consist of players who are all either 21 years old in the current calendar or younger. 7 teams will be competing for 3 tickets to the Jr World Championships later this summer in Algeria. Previously, the teams were drawn into two groups.
Group A: Argentina, Paraguay, Dominican Republic and Uruguay
Group B: Brazil, Chile and USA
New Format for Competition
Anyone who has followed Panamerican handball competitions for a while has seen more than one tournament where the first key result has been the draw of the competition. Often, what are perhaps 3 of the 4 best teams have been drawn into one group, resulting in a worthy team not making the semifinals. With many PHF competitions awarding either 3 or 4 tickets for a World Championship berth those worthy teams could only watch in frustration as a weaker team from the other group played in the semifinals.
That won’t be an issue, however, with this tournament as a new format ensures that 3 teams from each group will advance. The first place teams in each group will receive a bye to the semifinals while the 2nd and 3rd place teams from each group will square off for the right to advance to the semifinals. So, 2A will play 3B and 2B will play 3A with the winners of each match taking on 1B and 1A, respectively in the semifinals.
Team USA probably received the best draw possible as they were placed in the 3 team group which under the new format guarantees them an opportunity of playing for at least 3rd place and qualification for the World Championships. Further, they will be the only team to get a rest day on Wednesday prior to a likely 2nd place vs 3rd place match. Likely, in that Brazil will be a prohibitive favorite to win Group B
Friendly Match vs Paraguay
On Sunday, Team USA lost a friendly match to tournament hosts, Paraguay, 24-22. The U.S., however, were missing 3 European based players, Abou Fofana, Alex Binderis and Paul Skorupa, who have not yet arrived in Paraguay.
Team USA Schedule
Monday, 20 March USA vs Brazil 1900 Local
Tuesday, 21 March USA vs Chile 1730 Local
Wednesday, 22 March Off
Thursday, 23 March Likely match to determine semifinal opponent
Friday, 24 March Semifinal
Saturday, 25 March 1st place or 3rd place match
Note: Paraguay is currently one hour ahead of U.S. East Coast Time