USA Picks Up First Win vs Cuba in 32 Years

April 11, 2019, 1:20 p.m. (ET)

Cuba's Reiner Taboada gets ready to fire on USA Goalkeeper Hendrik Schultze

(Cuba's Reiner Taboada gets ready to fire on USA Goalkeeper Hendrik Schultze)

The USA Men beat Cuba last night 26 – 23 in their 2nd and final Group play match at the IHF NORCA Emerging Nations Championship.  The win secured them first place in Group D and sets them up for a quarterfinal matchup against Mexico later today.

The match was tightly contested most of the first half before the U.S. pulled away shortly before intermission for a 13-10 lead.  The U.S. extended the lead to 6 goals before Cuba came back to within two.  The, U.S. however, hung on for the 26 – 23 victory.

Asst Coach Mark Ortega complimented Alex Binderis, who after the U.S. missed a couple of penalty shots, stepped in and made 6 of 7 from 7M. Gary Hines and Abou Fofana also played well scoring 7 and 4 goals respectively.  Finally, Coach Ortega highlighted that the coaching staff was really pleased with the team showing good composure in the final minutes of a close match.

The victory over Cuba is significant from both a historical and future perspective.  The last U.S. victory over a Cuban team was 32 years ago at the 1987 PANAM Games, where a 34-32 Extra Time win in the Gold Medal match qualified the U.S. for the 1988 Olympics. Arguably, the biggest win in the history of the U.S. Men’s program and the high water mark for U.S. performance in Pan America.  In the intervening years, for a variety of reasons the two nations have not played each other on a regular basis.  Now, however, with the creation of the new North American & Caribbean Handball Confederation, the U.S. and Cuba will likely be playing each other more often and winning this match helps set the tone for future competitions.  Competitions that could very well have World Championship and Olympic qualification on the line.

USA Scoring

Alex Binderis, 7
Gary Hines, 7
Abou Fofana, 4
Ian Hueter, 3
Javier Coba, 2
Patrick Hueter, 1
Michael Lee, 1
Hendrik Schultze, 1

Up Next

The U.S. has a Quarterfinal match today (Thursday) vs Mexico at 8:00 PM Local / USA ET.  Mexico easily defeated Trinidad & Tobago 44-11, but lost a close match to Martinique 27-26 to finish 2nd in Group B.

The 8 Team bracket looks like this:

QF 1 Puerto Rico vs Haiti
QF 2 Martinique vs Cuba

QF 3 Dominican Republic vs Canada
QF 4 USA vs Mexico

Should the U.S. beat Mexico they will face the winner of the Dominican Republic – Canada match on Saturday.  (Friday is a rest day)

Links

USA – Cuba Official Match Statistics:  Link Link

USA – Cuba Photo Gallery: Link

USA – Cuba Match Video: Link

Official Tourney Website: Link