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Cuba celebrates win over Puerto Rico, advances in Classic
Updated: 2006-03-17 09:06

HAVANA (AP) _ Joyous Cuban fans celebrated on Thursday, a day after their team's big win in the World Baseball Classic sent some of them rushing into the streets with shouts and song.

"With Pure Valor!" the front page headline on the Communist Party daily Granma crowed about the 4-3 over Puerto Rico on Wednesday night. Below, a photograph showed the Cuban players in their bright red uniforms waving to fans.

"Cuba doesn't lose twice to the same team!" Jose Ramirez shouted to fellow fans gathered in Havana's Parque Central to loudly discuss the finer points of the game.

The victory moved the Cubans into the semifinals of the Classic. They'll face Albert Pujols, David Ortiz and the Dominican Republic on Saturday in San Diego.

"Now we are going to play real baseball," Ramirez said.

Baseball is always popular on this island of 11.2 million people, but emotions over Cuba's performance in the Classic have been particularly wild in recent days _ especially when it wasn't clear if the team would reach the semifinals.

"I didn't see the whole game," said retired runner Ana Fidelia Quirot, the island's two-time world champion in 800 meters. "I got very nervous, my heart was beating really hard, so I turned off the television and put it on again for the last inning."

Student Julia Espinosa tuned in out of curiosity after hearing the shouts from the homes of neighbors.

"The guys did something incredible," she said.

The Cuban players, noted Espinosa, "don't have the same training or living conditions as the professionals."

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