Wed, Nov 07, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Baseball World Cup opening game postponed

AFP , TAIPEI

The opening game at the baseball World Cup, which was to take place in Taipei yesterday, has been postponed because of heavy rain, organizers said.

The Taiwan-Italy match has been rescheduled for Monday, but yesterday's opening ceremony was to go on as scheduled, with 10 of the 16 teams participating to attend, organizers said.

Cuba are looking to clinch a 10th successive title at the 37th World Cup. It has had a stranglehold on the tournament since its inception, winning 25 of the 28 tournaments it has competed in, including the last nine.

"Their odds of successfully defending the championship are pretty high," tournament spokesman Jabbar Chia said.

Most of the players in this year's squad also took part in last year's World Baseball Classic, when Cuba finished second to Japan, Chia said.

He said Cuba's chances had received an additional boost from Japan, which has left several of its stars behind in preparation for Olympic qualifying next month.

But the Cubans will be facing stiff competition from the US, which has a number of players who have been in the US Major Leagues on the roster.

Cuba's first match-up in the 16-team competition is against Australia today.

Pool A groups Japan, the US and Panama, who are expected to easily advance to the next round, along with contenders Taiwan, Italy and Mexico, who will have to battle it out for a fourth spot.

In Pool B, Australia, the Netherlands and Venezuela are considered strong contenders alongside Cuba.

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