MNT Learns Group for 2023 Pan American Games
by Matthew Collins
On September 1st, the draw for the Team Handball competition at the 2023 Pan American Games was held, with the United States' Men's National Team slotted into Group B alongside Argentina, Cuba, and Uruguay.
Held in Santiago, Chile, the Team Handball competition at the 2023 Pan American Games will take place from October 24th to November 4th, with play for the men's squad beginning on October 30th.
The American squad qualified for the 2023 Pan American Games after claiming back-to-back victories over Canada in March 2023 at the United States Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
The United States opens up play against Argentina, a formidable South American side, who finished 19th at the 2023 IHF World Men's Handball Champiobhsip, one slot ahead of the US. The Argentinians qualified for the Pan American Games after winning the 2022 South American Games in October 2022, going undefeated and having a +72 goal differential, showcasing their efficiency on the offensive end of the floor.
In their second match of the tournament, the Americans square off against Cuba, who the USA most recently faced at the 2022 NACHC Men's Handball Championship in Mexico City. The USA prevailed against the Carribean squad 32-28 in the final match of group play at that tournament.
Lastly, a match versus Uruguay will complete the group play for the USA. Uruguay also qualified for the Pan American Games via the 2022 South American Games, coming in third place, securing a spot as Chile automatically qualifies as the host.
In Group A, hosts Chile, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico round out the eight teams vying for glory in Santiago.
When asked about the group, USA Captain Ian Hueter said, "It is going to be a tough week of handball ahead for us as we face Argentina, Cuba, and Uruguay. However, we are very excited and believe that we have a chance to win these games."
Coming off a historic performance at the 2023 IHF Men's World Handball Championship, winning their first ever match at the tournament, and finishing with two victories, Hueter believes they can continue that momentum at the Pan American Games.
"The World Championships was a great experience for us to compete at the highest level, and we want to continue our journey and be a successful handball team, promoting the sport for our country," Hueter said.
United States' Head Coach Robert Hedin added, “We are glad we will be able to compete in Chile at the Pan American Games. It's going to be hard competition as it is a hard group, but I believe we have a good chance to at least finish second in our group and progress to the second phase.”