Pan-American Games (Brazil Men and Women Take Gold)

[b]Women: [/b] The Brazilian Women easily defeated Cuba 30-17 to take the Gold Medal and the automatic qualification slot for Beijing. An earlier group play match in which Cuba had challenged Brazil, eventually losing 32-28, had given Cuba some hope of springing an upset. This time around, however, Brazil cranked up the defense and shut down Brazil’s backcourt scoring. Notably Arassay Duran who had nine goals in the first match was held to just 2 goals on 11 shots. In the bronze medal match, Argentina edged the Dominican Republic 23-22. In consolation play, an evenly matched Canada and Mexico needed two overtimes and sudden death penalty shots to decide the winner. At the end of regulation play the score was tied 28-28. After each side going 4 for 5 in the first set of penalty to make it 32-32 each side made or missed in sudden death until Mexico edged Canada 37-36. In the 7th place match Paraguay edged Puerto Rico 22-21.

[b]Olympic Ramifications:[/b]
Brazil: Pan-American Representative
Cuba: Pan-American Participant at TBD Qualification Tournament
Argentina: Potential Participant at TBD Qualification Tournament (Will likely depend on Brazil placing higher than South Korea at the World Championships in France)

[b]Men: [/b]The Brazilian Men also wrapped up a gold medal with a 30-22 victory over Argentina. Despite the lopsided final score, Argentina did make a game of it. A low scoring game in the first half had Brazil leading 11-6. In the 2nd half, Argentina narrowed the lead to 21-19 only to see Brazil put together a 9-3 run over the last 12 minutes. Brazil was led in scoring by their Hamburg Germany Bundesliga star Bruno Souza with 9 goals, while Bruno Civelli led Argentina with 6. In the Bronze medal game, Cuba edged Uruguay 24-23. In the 5th place game the Dominican Republic edged Chile 87-27. Finally, in the 7th place game Team Canada got a hard fought 34-32 win against Mexico. In what must have been curious deja vu match for anyone who had seen the Canadian and Mexican women play the previous day, this matched ended in Double Overtime. No penalty shootout this time around, but still 80 minutes of handball.

[b]Olympic Ramifications: [/b]
Brazil: Pan-American Representative
Argentina: Pan American Participant at TBD Qualification Tournament (Currently scheduled to be hosted by Poland with Spain and one other European team; Actual teams will depend on the European Championships Results)

[b]Side note: [/b]This Associated Press story in the International Herald Tribune notes that in both the Men’s and Women’s semifinal matches between Cuba and Argentina, Brazilian fans cheered on Argentina. Brazil and Argentina are usually bitter rivals, but an earlier Cuban defeat of the Brazilian volleyball team, in which the Cubans provoked the crowd after the match has made even rooting for Argentina possible– when they’re playing Cuba.