HAVANA, CUBA.- (ACN) When hearing the voice of play-ball at the Tokyo Dome stadium tomorrow, Cuba will begin its route to the second round of the 4th World Baseball Classic (WBC), its main goal on Japanese soil.

The Caribbean squad will debut against the host team as part of Group B, and the starting pitcher will be the right-hander Noelvis Entenza, who in the regular stage of the 56th Cuban National Series had an ERA of 3.80, with 44 strikeouts and 46 walks in 97 innings.

The also right-hander Tomoyuki Sugano is expected to be Japan´s starter, as in the last season of the NPB he had an ERA of 2.01, with 9 wins and 6 losses and 189 strikeouts and 26 walks in 183 frames.

Undoubtedly, Japan is a strong rival, beyond being the two-time champion of the WBC (2006 and 2009); but the side managed by Carlos Martí rely on their push and determination to achieve the goal set; in addition to the fusion between young and experienced players.

Several players of the Cuban roster have experience in the contest, such as Frederich Cepeda, who is the only one attending all the previous editions and was recently chosen by ESPN sports channel as the most outstanding player in the history of the WBC.

Outfielder Alfredo Despaigne and right-handed pitcher Vladimir Garcia are the others with more experience as they both attended the events of 2009 and 2013; while the also pitcher Jonder Martínez is the only one who participated in the first edition (2006).

The other players with WBC experience are pitchers Miguel Lahera and Leandro Martinez, catcher Frank Camilo Morejón and infielder Raúl Gonzalez.

Cuba will also face China and Australia in its search for a ticket to the next stage, to take place in the same venue between the best two teams of Pools A and B.

Cuba´s best performance in WBC was achieved in the initial version, when it ranked second after losing 10-6 to Japan at Petco Park stadium in San Diego, USA.