Diamondblacks WBC Qualifier in Taiwan

Baseball New Zealand Diamondblacks heading to Taiwan for World Baseball Classic Qualifying Tournament.

New Zealand Will Take on National Teams from the Philippines, Thailand and host Chinese Taipei, Ranked #7 in the World

wbcqannouncesmlBaseball New Zealand officials learned Friday that the federation's national team will travel to Taipei in November to face off with three Asian baseball nations, including the host Chinese Taipei - a team that will be comprised of professional baseball players from across the world - for a lone spot in the World Baseball Classic next March.

World Baseball Classic, Inc. (WBCI) today announced the venues and pools of the new Qualifiers for the 2013 World Baseball Classic, including Team New Zealand's pool in Taipei at XinZhuang Stadium, which seats more than 11,000 baseball fans. The winners of each Qualifying Pool will advance to compete in the 2013 World Baseball Classic tournament next March.

With four pools of four teams battling for one spot in each pool for advancement to the next round in baseball's premiere showcase, the first round later this year will shape up as follows: Qualifier 1 in Regensburg, Germany will include Canada, Czech Republic, Germany and Great Britain; Qualifier 2 in Jupiter, Florida (USA), the teams will be France, Israel, South Africa and Spain. In Qualifier 4 in Panama City, Brazil, Colombia, Nicaragua and host Panama will battle for the one position in the next round in March 2013.

However, the pool that matters to New Zealand will be in Taipei, Taiwan, most likely in mid-November, according to reports out of New York. Host Chinese Taipei, ranked seventh in the world in latest IBAF (International Baseball Federation) poll, will be the clear favorite. Thailand, ranked #22 in the world, and the Philippines, ranked #28, are also in this pool, though the talent level of their national teams is considered an unknown at this time.

"We knew full well that we'd be up against at least one strong baseball nation, no matter which pool we were placed in," said Baseball New Zealand board member Jonathan Freeman. "However, this is an exciting time, no matter where we play, for the thousands of baseball players in this nation and around the world who hold New Zealand parents or have New Zealand ties. This is a tipping point, we believe, for the sport in this country, and we're going to ensure that our top 26 baseball players are prepared for the biggest games our nation has ever played."

High profile offseason visitor Curtis Granderson, centre fielder for the New York Yankees, saw first-hand the profile of the game growing during his nine-day stay in Auckland and Queenstown in January of last year.
"It's an exciting time for the sport of baseball in New Zealand. I was honored to be able to view first-hand the talent in this country, as well as the progress they are making in developing baseball as one of its primary sports," said Granderson, who played in Taipei's XinZhuang Stadium as part of a Major League Baseball All Star team with fellow New Zealand enthusiast and visitor Mark Melancon from the Boston Red Sox.

"The inclusion of New Zealand in the World Baseball Classic is a big step forward for the nation. They are now in a position to show the entire world how far they have come in baseball development," Granderson added, "and I believe many baseball fans worldwide will be surprised and pleased with the product they see on the field."

According to Major League Baseball officials, this next stage of baseball is going to the premiere showcase for the game across the globe. "We are excited to expand the scope of the World Baseball Classic and maintain our commitment to global baseball development, starting with four excellent venues hosting the new Qualifiers this fall," said Paul Archey, Senior Vice President, International Business Operations for Major League Baseball. "We are very pleased with the level of interest from venues and organizers around the world who share our enthusiasm for the World Baseball Classic and its mission of celebrating the global nature of our game."

"We are pleased to have 12 new countries participating in the World Baseball Classic," said Major League Baseball Players Association Assistant General Counsel Ian Penny. "Sports fans around the world will witness one of the greatest events on the international sports calendar when the 2013 World Baseball Classic launches its new Qualifiers with games in Regensburg, Germany. We're confident the Qualifiers will further expand the international popularity of the game we all love. We thank all participating nations for their commitment to the World Baseball Classic and the Qualifier host locations and organizers for their passion and interest in the game of baseball."

The Qualifiers will feature a six-game modified double-elimination format. The composition of the pools was determined after venues were selected, with consideration given to competitive balance, existing rivalries and each national team's geographical location.

"The implementation of this qualification system into the World Baseball Classic framework is a true sign of the strong collaboration between the IBAF and our colleagues at Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association," said Riccardo Fraccari, President of the International Baseball Federation. "We are very encouraged about the inclusion of emerging baseball territories and the continual growth of the international baseball landscape that this represents."

The Qualifiers will expand the competitive field from 16 to 28 countries. The teams invited to participate in the Qualifying Pools will include the four World Baseball Classic teams from 2009 that did not win a game - Canada, Chinese Taipei, Panama and South Africa.

The winners from each Qualifying Pool will advance to the World Baseball Classic tournament, scheduled for March 2013. Those four teams will join the 12 countries - Australia, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela - that receive automatic invitations based on their performance in the 2009 tournament.

The 2013 World Baseball Classic will mark the third edition of the tournament. The inaugural event was held in 2006, and the second World Baseball Classic was held in 2009.

About World Baseball Classic, Inc.
World Baseball Classic, Inc. is a company created at the direction of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) to operate the World Baseball Classic tournament. The tournament, which is sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), is supported by MLB, the MLBPA, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), their respective players associations and other leagues and players from around the world.

About the World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic is the premier international baseball tournament, sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation, and features the best players in the world competing for their home countries and territories. More than 1.5 million fans from all over the world have attended the tournament games, held in March 2006 and 2009. Team Japan is the reigning World Baseball Classic Champion, taking home both the inaugural and 2009 titles. The upcoming World Baseball Classic will be played in March 2013 and will again feature the greatest baseball-playing nations in the world. The tournament will be held every four years thereafter.


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