March 28, 2023

Cuba defeated Turkey 3-1 in the championship match of the men’s Challenger Cup that was held here today. As a result of their victory, Cuba qualified for the League of Nations for the very first time. Cuba was led to victory by the abilities of its younger players.

The Antilleans won the match against the Europeans with runs of 27-17, 23-25, 25-20, and 25-20 to close out the match. This was their only set loss out of their three matches, which they played against Chile, the Czech Republic, and Turkey.

The star Miguel Angel Lopez led the offensive for the Caribbean with 20 points, 16 in the attack, two with the block, and the same amount supported in the services. He was followed in scoring by Jess Herrera, who was the author of 19 units (16-2-1).

The winners also stood out, particularly Roamy Alonso with 12 points (10-1-1) and Osniel Mergarejo, who achieved 16 cards total (6-1-4).

The Turks were led in scoring by Adis Lagumdzija with 22 points (21-0-1), Samet Gunes with 10 points (4-6-0), and Emre Savas with nine points. Samet Gunes led the team in rebounds with nine (6-0-3).

Mergarejo and López finished as the competition’s leaders in service with six aces apiece, and in the case of López, he also finished third among the best scorers (50 points) and among blockers. Mergarejo also finished as the competition’s leader in blocks (seven).

Men's Challenger Cup

The starting lineup for the Antillean team consisted of passer Adrián Goide, assistants López and Mergarejo, opposite Herrera, central defenders Alonso and Javier Concepción, and Yonder Gara as the libero. However, in the second set, Liván Taboada took over the distribution of the attack from Yonder Gara.

At the conclusion of the game, the captain of the Cuban team, López, expressed his happiness at the team’s achievement of the quota. Prior to this, Cuba had finished fourth in 2018 and second in 2019. López also gave credit to Turkey for their performance in the game.

On the other hand, we were able to keep our focus throughout the game and play well. Because we had been excluded from the top tier for such a long period of time, achieving membership in the League of Nations is a significant accomplishment for our nation. According to him, the opportunity to represent Cuba in a competition of this nature is one that should be regarded as both a privilege and a significant accomplishment.

This is the best performance that the Cuban team has had since its participation in the 2016 Olympic Games, the World League of that year, the universal appointment of Italy Bulgaria in 2018, and the 2019 Men’s Challenger Cup tournament itself.

For more information regarding the Men’s Challenger Cup, click here

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