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Practice match between Cuba, S. Korean club canceled over ball
DOU LIOU CITY, Taiwan, Feb. 21 (Yonhap) -- A practice match between the Cuban national baseball team and a South Korean professional club was canceled Thursday over a dispute of the game ball, officials said.

   Cuba was to face the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) at Dou Liou Baseball Stadium here in Taiwan, as part of preparation for the March 2-19 World Baseball Classic (WBC).

   For the first round, Cuba has been paired with Japan, Brazil and China in Pool A. Their games will take place in Fukuoka, Japan.

   According to NC officials, the two sides had previously agreed that they would each pitch their own choice of the ball. But just before the match, Cuba demanded a ball by the U.S. brand Brett Bros. be used by both teams.

   "The ball had thick and wide seams, and it posed injury risks for our pitchers," one NC official said. "Then Cuba suggested we both play a Taiwanese ball. That ball also had big seams and we said we didn't want to play it. Finally, Cubans brought out some mysterious ball, and again we told them we couldn't play it."

   The official explained Cuba first asked the game be canceled, and the Dinos were more than happy to oblige.

   "We had our agreement in place and they broke it right before the game," the official said. "They apparently had no intention of playing. So we agreed to scrap the game."

   Cuba will open its WBC on March 3 against Brazil. The top two countries from each pool will advance to the second ground. Cuba and Japan are favorites to come out of their pairing, and they're expected to face South Korea and Taiwan in the second round in Tokyo.

   Cuba was the runner-up at the 2006 WBC and was knocked out of the second round in 2009. South Korean officials have said Cuba hasn't been impressive in the buildup to this year's tournament.

   jeeho@yna.co.kr
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