Sat, Jul 24, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Eight ameteur ball teams meet in southern Taiwan

By Paul Huang  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

With the heavily favored Cuban team in town to defend its title, the 2nd World University Baseball Championship will kick off in Tainan today, as eight squads from around the world get set to battle in the nine-day competition.

This will be the first international baseball tournament in Taiwan since the 2001 Baseball World Cup.

The championship includes Cuba, Mexico, the US, South Korea, Japan, Canada, the Czech Republic and Taiwan.

The teams will play a round-robin preliminary round in Tainan and Kaohsiung for the first seven days before the top four finishers advance to the finals in Tainan next Sunday.

Despite losing three of his top starting pitchers national squad, Taiwan's headcoach Kung Jung-tang is optimistic as he prepares to face Cuba, Japan, South Korea, and the US. He will resort to pitchers Chiang Jien-ming (蔽膘) and Tsai Ying-fong (絆荎瑕) to share the bulk of the load.

The two former high-school standouts are no strangers to representing their country in international competition. Each has played for Taiwan in the Junior World Championships (high-school level) and Youth World Championships (junior-high-school level).

Taiwan finished fourth behind Cuba, US, and Japan two years ago in the first World University Baseball Championship at Sicily two years ago.

Baseball competition has been part of the World University Games since 1959, where the first games were held in Turin, Italy.

The tournament assumed its current name in 2002 while remaining under the supervision of the International University Sports Federation.

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