Safe prediction: Chile and Cuba will play for the final spot in the 2011 WCh

After the group play just finished, one can conclude that in the end there are no real surprises in this year’s PanAmerican Men’s Championship. In particular, Argentina and Brazil yet again seem quite dominant. They should offer an interesting final, which decides the gold medals and the better seeding for the 2011 World Championship.

As often in the past, the real excitement involves the struggle for the third place, which also carries with it tickets to the World Championship in Sweden. It is now rather obvious that the final fight for those tickets will be between the host country Chile and Cuba. Of course, either one of these teams still has the opportunity to cause a major upset in the semifinals. But until now it really seems that Argentina (against Cuba) and Brazil (against Chile) are much too strong to allow that to happen.

Cuba defeated both Greenland and the Dominican Republic but were completely without a chance against Brazil. An 11-goal half-time deficit had been extended to a 15-goal difference by the end of the game. Argentina was in a class by itself in their group, leaving it to the other three teams to compete for second place. There had been some speculation that the prospects of a solid victory for Uruguay against Canada, combined with a huge loss by Chile against Argentina somehow could offer Uruguay a bit of hope. But Canada put up a good fight and kept the Chilean victory to three goals; and then Argentina smartly took it a bit easy after their group win seemed secure and with two more important games to come, so the victory against Chile was limited to eight goals.

Thursday’s results and the final standings in the preliminary groups:

CAN-URU 29-32 and ARG-CHI 26-18; ARG 6 points, CHI 3 (+3), URU 3 (-15), CAN 0;

CUB-BRA 26-41 and GRL-DOM 25-20; BRA 6 points, CUB 4, GRL 2, DOM 0;

So, again, Friday’s semifinals are Argentina-Cuba and Brazil-Chile, while the placement matches have the pairings Uruguay-Dominican Rep. and then Greenland-Canada for what one might call the ‘North American Championship’.