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Japan to face Cuba in opener

Kyodo News

Japan will face three-time gold medal winner Cuba in its opening game of the Beijing Olympic baseball tournament, according to the first-round schedule released Tuesday by the International Baseball Federation.

Japan, consisting of home-based professional players, will take on Cuba, Taiwan, the Netherlands and South Korea in the first four days of the round-robin preliminaries beginning on Aug. 13.

The Japanese team will then play Canada, host China and the United States from Aug. 18-20.

The top four teams will advance to the semifinals to be held on Aug. 22, followed by the final the following day.

“If we beat gold medal favorite Cuba, we can pick up momentum,” Japan manager Senichi Hoshino said Wednesday in Tokyo.