Squad rivals European teams, signals rebuilding process
American men represented USA Team Handball June 4-6 in an international handball competition for the first time since 2007. The trip to Germany officially marked the beginning of rebuilding all men’s National Teams for 2009-2012 Olympic cycle and beyond.
The squad of men, primarily under the age of 23, competed at the Three Nation Tournament in Timmendorfer Strand, Germany. The team competed against Ireland, Luxembourg and a professional German squad. The Americans were victorious against Ireland, winning 40-21. Luxembourg, 39-24, and Bad Schwartau, a professional Bundesliga team, 41-25, defeated the Americans, but the mostly newcomers showed promise as they continually improved. The team spent a total of eight days in Germany, winning three exhibitions against local clubs. High scorers Adam Elzoghby (28) and Gary Hines (23) were both named “Man of the Match” during the tournament.
Boban Zivovic, veteran handball coach and player in Europe and Southwest Regional Coach for USATH, trained the men during their time in Germany. "With appropriate and continuous practice, most of these players can reach the next level,” he said.
The 16-member delegation featured talent identified at tryouts, Americans who play professionally aboard and veteran national athletes: Jason Borchik (21 / Army); Carsen Chun (21 / Air Force); Brian Delaney (21 / Air Force); Anthony Echevarria (21 / Atlanta Team Handball United); Adam Elzoghby (23 / Al Ahly of Egypt); Jordan Fithian (23 / New England Freeze); Thomas Giordano (20 / Army); Jonathan Harmeling (24 / Bayer Dormagen of Germany); Gary Hines (25 / DJK Waldbuettelbrunn of Germany); Scott Knox (20 / University of North Carolina); Peter McKee (21 / Austin Team Handball Club); Mark Ortega (30 / Alta of Norway); Daniel Osborne (21 / Los Angeles Team Handball Club); Preston Pham (21 / Army); Keith Fine (22 / Bayer Dormagen of Germany); and Ivan Ignjatovic (27 / New York City Team Handball Club).
“We hope to use the momentum created by this trip and announce shortly the road map for all aspiring athletes to qualify for USA Senior Men's National Team which will be participating in PATHF's Division 1 Tournament in the Dominican Republic, Nov. 3-7, 2009,” said Mariusz Wartalowicz, Technical Director of USA Team Handball.
The Men’s National Team last competed internationally in July 2007 at a qualification event for the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, and last qualified for the Olympics without home country inclusion in 1992 for the Games in Barcelona, Spain.
USA Team Handball, certified by the United States Olympic Committee in April 2008, is the new governing body for team handball in the U.S.; its goal, in addition to bolstering its National Teams for sustained international excellence, is develop, promote, educate and grow the sport at all levels and see 100,000 American children playing handball.