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Followers of the Santiago baseball team hope today for a victory over Industriales at the beginning of the 47th national championship.

The beginning of the tournament returned to fans of this city, second in importance of the country, the passion for the game, Cuba s national sport.

The traditional rivalry with Industriales can be found in any square, park or avenue of the eastern city with more than one poster recalling who was champion of the last tournament.

"Santiago champion", can be read at one of the sidewalls of Marte Square, venue to one of the most famous gatherings to discuss baseball of the country, where it is almost impossible to find a fan of any other team than Santiago.

Mariano Alayo, one of the regulars of the forum, thinks "Santiago has the best team ever this year and a lot more will to win in order to show last season s victory was no coincidence."

"(Antonio) Pacheco is already a great manager with great and ambitious players at his orders. We think it won t be an easy tournament, but we have winning options," said Alayo while he passed his cigar from one hand to the other and took a sip of rum.

A lot more cautious was Ramon Poll, a 30-year strong mulatto who called to take care before Industriales "because they too have a team with a lot of young and talented players."

"Santiago is still Santiago" chorused a group of youths while they enjoyed a training session in a field near the Guillermon Moncada stadium, venue to the inaugural match.

Santiagueros and industrialistas have shared over the last years the titles of the Cuban Baseball Championship and experts relieve that next March when the after-season games take place, both clubs will be again struggling for the first place.


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