- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 23, 2014

HAVANA (AP) - Cuba is hoping to use a five-game baseball exhibition against a team of U.S. college players to bounce back from recent disappointing international results in a sport that’s considered the island’s national pastime.

The series that started Wednesday in Cuba is the third time Cuban and U.S. baseball squads have met since 2012, when games resumed after being discontinued in 1996.

Cuba long dominated amateur baseball, winning Olympic gold in 1992, 1996 and 2004.

But it hasn’t won a major international competition since 2005, and the team that traveled to the U.S. last year to play collegians lost all five games.

The official newspaper Juventud Rebelde says the young Cuban team will use the games to find “a road to reconstruction to view the future with optimism.”

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