The Pan-American Handball Federation (PHF) has revealed the draw pools for this summer’s Pan-American Sr. Women’s Championship and in doing so they have confirmed that Cuba, the 2015 silver medalist will not be participating in the competition. There was no indication as to why, but it is likely due to budget considerations. Cuba’s absence means that only two dominant teams (Brazil and Argentina) will be participating and that several nations, including the U.S., now have a realistic chance of securing 3rd place and Pan-America’s last World Championship qualification slot.
The 10 teams will be drawn into two groups of 5 teams each with 1 team coming from each of the following pairs:
- Brazil, Argentina
- Puerto Rico, Uruguay
- Paraguay, Chile
- USA, Guatemala
- Colombia, Dominican Republic
Based on past performance it’s pretty much unfathomable that Brazil will not be in the final. Argentina is not as good as Brazil, but as they are now the tournament it’s pretty improbable that they will also not reach the final. Among the remaining 8 teams there is a great deal of parity with only Guatemala being at a significantly lower level of play. I would give, Puerto Rico a slight edge based on their 4th place finish two years ago, but the U.S. certainly is in the conversation as well having split two matches against them recently at the NORCA Championship. Puerto Rico was, however, missing at least one key player, 22 year old breakout star right wing, Jailene Maldonado, who now plays professionally in Spain. Uruguay, which beat the U.S. to qualify for the 2015 PANAM Games is also in the mix.
The date for the actual draw has not been announced. The tournament will take place in Buenos Aires from 18-25 June.
2015 Championship Results: Link
PHF Article on Draw Pools: Link