Surely when you read these lines the echoes of the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru will have been extinguished; it has been known for weeks which English team won the Football League; The 59th National Baseball Series is already under development and Cuba’s chances are insistently being looked at in the PREMIER 12 Tournament, first on the list of the lides that give places for the Tokyo baseball pageant next year.
However, I am writing them today Saturday, May 18, when none of the above has happened and it is the precise date on which the Champions League final is discussed… of men’s volleyball in the Max Schmeling Hall of the city of Berlin in front of more than 9,000 fans between the monarch of the last four years the VK Zenit Kazan of Russia and the Cucine Lube Civitanova of Italy.
And if there was no representation of Cubans in football, there are three players from the island who were even figures of our national team: Robertlandy Simón, Osmany Juantorena and Yoandy Leal.
This trio is the protagonist with Club Cucine Lube Civitanova, directed by Ferdinando de Giorgi, who was also crowned champion of the strong and competitive Italian League, imposing himself in the final on Perugia, reigning monarch who exhibited among his main players the Cuban Wilfredo León. And as I write…
In Cuba it has already spent one of the afternoon (seven of the night in Germany)… the Champions League final is already played!
Precisely the Italian League final of the 2019 season between Cucine Lube Civitanova and Perugia is considered one of the most exciting and close of recent years, as it extended to five matches.
The first clash was won by Perugia 3 sets by 0 but Civitanova tied by prevailing in the second 3–1. However, the cachumbambé was reached and Perugia won again, in their “Eurosole Forum”, 3-0, being just a triumph of retaining the Crown. But at home the Civitanova is also strong and prevailed in the fourth match 3-0 to force the final that would be in the Pala Barton Hall, enclosure and temple of its rivals.
And in Germany he finished the first set of the final… current champion Zenit Kazan won 25-16 in just twenty-four minutes.
The last match of the Italian final at the home of the champions began “sweet” for the locals who, wounded in their self-love for having lost the European semi-final to Russian Zenit Kazan, clung to maintaining the peninsular title, and won the first two sets with respective scores of 25-22 and 25-21 with an impeccable Wilfredo Leon especially from the serve line.
However, Civitanova was unwilling to surrender and after trying some variants was crushing in the triumph in the third partial 25-12 and ensured to play the tie break by winning the fourth 25-21.
The “volleyball breakers”, as the Cuban sports narrative teacher René Navarro called it, was tough in the beginning, but the challengers took advantage and did not lose it until they imposed themselves categorically 15-10.
And in Berlin he finished the second set of the European final… the match was tied, the Cucine Lube Civitanova won 25-15 in twenty-six minutes.
And in that clash of the Italian final the three Cubans were pillars in their team. Osmani Juantorena and Robertlandy Simon scored 16 points each, while Yoandy Leal scored only one less. That is, they contributed 47 cartons out of the 109 that put their equipment on the board.
Individually the only one who could score more than them was the Bulgarian Tsvetan Sokolov, author of 19 people. However, the attack of the Cubans and the Bulgarian would not have been so effective, had he not had the talent of the Brazilian pin Bruzo Rezende, who with the usual rascality gave a true master class at the home of the rivals.
Among the individual awards was Juantorena. The Italian nationalized santiaguero was chosen as the Most Valuable Player of the Final and for him constituted his fourth title in Italy, while today he fights in Berlin for his third champions.
Born on August 12, 1985, Osmani Juantorena Portuondo is a member of the Italian national team with which he exhibits, among other awards, silver medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the 2015 World Cup, a season in which he also added the bronze medal at the European Championships.
Previously with the National Team of Cuba he reached the bronze medal in the 2005 World League.
His career has been marked by success. In Italy, in addition to the crown in 2019 with Civitanova, he has three League Championships, four Italian Cups, one Super Cup, four Club World Cups and two Champions Leagues, always with the Trentino Volley team, while in Turkey he won a League, two Cups and a Super Cup.
Another interesting fact in his career is that on four occasions he has been selected as the Most Valuable Player in the World Club Championships.
And in the Max Schemeling-Halle in Berlin he finished the third set of the grand final… the Italians take over by beating 25-12 in twenty minutes.
For his part, guantanamer Robertlandy Simón Aties, born on June 11, 1987, and at 2.08 in stature, joined the Cuba Campeón team at NORCECA in 2009 and runner-up in the world a year later.
And if Juantorena has been able to get on the international podium with the Italian national team, Simon has had a harder time. However, he remains hopeful of playing at the Tokyo Olympics.
His last attempt at nationalization was this same year in Bulgaria, but the Volleyball Federation of that country said he did not have it, because because of his age he would not come up with the quality standards that the management of the Bulgarian team demands.
By the way, this management of Simon has not been the only one, before he tried it without success in Italy, Argentina and Canada. The player has sought these variants in the face of the Cuban Federation’s refusal to recognize athletes who, like him, emigrated.
At the club level it has been the classic “off-road”. His first foray, after leaving the island, took place precisely in the Italian League where he reached the Challenge Cup in the 2012-2013 campaign with copra Elior Piacenza. He then went to South Korea and won two seasons with the colors of Ansan OK Savings Bank.
However, his best performance came with Brazilian Sada Cruceiro with which he won two South American titles and so many other world titles.
In addition, in many tournaments he has been selected as the Best Blocker.
And back to the Men’s Volleyball Champions League Final in Berlin, he finished fourth set… and the match!!!! They won the Civitanova 25-19 in the longest set with twenty-nine minutes. Individually Tsvetan Sokolov was the top scorer with 17 points, escorted by Yoandy Leal (15), Osmany Juantorena (14) and Robertlandy Simon (9).
Meanwhile, Yoandy Leal Hidalgo is the youngest of them all. Born on August 31, 1988, he was nationalized in Brazil, and before emigrating he joined the Cuban national team that among other triumphs reached the runner-up at the 2010 World Cup.
The 2.01 m long player will play for the Brazilian team at the upcoming Olympics under the renowned strata Bernardo Rezende.
Although he currently plays in Italy, Leal Hidalgo began his professional career in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. There he was signed by the club Sada Cruzeiro with which he won four crowns at the Club World Cups, three South American titles, four Brazilian Leagues and two Cariocas Super Cups.
Individually archives fifteen more prizes in various competitions, including five Most Valuable titles, nine Best Attacker titles and one Of Best in Service.
And in Berlin it’s all celebration for the “Italian” sextet where three Cubans lifted the crown. The first for Yoandy Leal and Robertlandy Simon, and the third for Osmani Juantorena.
When the echoes of the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, were turned off; for weeks the English Football League Champion team has been known; The 59th National Baseball Series is already under development and cuba’s chances are already under development in the PREMIER 12 Tournament, first on the list of the lides that give rise to the Tokyo baseball pageant next year, three Cuban volleyballers won the Men’s Volleyball Champions League in Berlin, Germany, a contest that under different formats has been played since 1959.
Unfortunately, the fact was never discussed in Cuba, unless by alternative means on the Internet. Another missed opportunity of the “sports channel in Cuba” to publicize the best of Cuban sport. Ω