Thessaloniki, Greece, June 23, 2016 - The Alexandrio Melathro Sports Hall in Thessaloniki is ready to welcome the FIVB Volleyball World League stars for the second year in a row, as Greece play hosts to Slovenia, Qatar and Puerto Rico in Group 3.
A press conference held on Thursday brought back special memories for Slovenia’s head coach Andrea Giani, who returns to the Alexandrio Melathro Hall 22 years after the 1994 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship he won as a member of the Italian national team.
His compatriot Roberto Piazza, currently head coach of Qatar, is no stranger to Greece either, and was working for Olympiakos until two months ago, while Puerto Rico’s team are also creating bonds with Greece after having spent the last week in Kozani, where they participated in Leg 1 of Group 3.Andrea Giani, Slovenia head coach:
“It’s a special moment for me to return here, 22 years after the match against Greece for the 1994 World Championship. This tournament is important for us. We will play against good teams. We must win every match, but we will have to go step by step.”Jani Kovacic, Slovenia team captain:
“We have prepared everything for our first game against Qatar and after that we will see how we will play against the other opponents. I hope we can beat them all and qualify for the Final Four in Germany. I think we are prepared to make it, despite the fact that it’s a little hot here in Greece!”Roberto Piazza, Qatar head coach:
“It’s great for me to be back here, although my last games with Olympiakos against PAOK didn’t have good results. Slovenia have got a good team but the rest of the opponents are also strong. Maybe there will be some surprise in the group. We are ready to play our best level of volley here in Greece.”
Ali Bairami, Qatar team captain:
“It’s our first time in the FIVB World League. We will play against very good teams here. We hope to get better results than we did last week. Our aim is to gain experience and get more prepared for the next year.”Rafael Gaspar, Puerto Rico head coach:
“Like I said last week in Kozani, it’s going to be a great experience for our new group of players. We improved our play last week and hopefully we will continue that way and get more wins this week.”
Sanchez Sequiel, Puerto Rico team captain:
“We are excited to be here and play against these great teams, which will bring the best out of us. I hope that we will keep getting better and better, game by game”.Sotiris Drikos, Greece head coach:
“I wish to welcome my colleagues and the team captains who are here. This time the level is a little bit higher than in the previous group in Kozani. It’s difficult to make any predictions about the games. Slovenia are undefeated, Qatar are difficult to play against, while Puerto Rico are expected to play even better than last week. Our task will be hard, but we are ready to do the best we can and see each game separately.”Giorgos Petreas, Greece player:
“We did a very good job in Kozani, but I think that this tournament will be more important and more difficult, because our rivals will be stronger. We will try to repeat our victory against Puerto Rico, but it’s always tricky when you play against the same opponent within a few days. We will try to make some wins and qualify for the Final Four, with the support of the Greek fans.”