Miami The national team failed to advance to the second round of the World Classic on Sunday, losing to Venezuela. This step must be taken tonight.

Puerto Rico face Israel tonight, who on paper are a more comfortable team to beat on their way to qualification compared to Venezuela, and therefore represent an opportunity that Puerto Rico cannot afford to miss as it will make the prospect difficult.

“You have to win,” Puerto Rico pitcher Hector Santiago said. “We need to leave early to make the race.”

Puerto Rico would improve to 2-1 with a win and qualify for the second round as three wins are enough to reach that goal in this circular four team games in Group D.

Puerto Rico will look for a third win on Wednesday against the Dominican Republic, who are favorites to win their next two games against Nicaragua and Israel and make the game against Puerto Rico a classic qualifier for the two countries.

In other groups, only two wins were needed to reach the second round, for example in A, where all teams played 2-2, and average goal identified two countries that qualified. Cuba and Italy were lucky when they used the tiebreaker formula, which measured the number of runs allowed divided by the scores submitted by the teams.

Puerto Rico has advanced to the second round in four previous editions of the Classic. He made it to the last two finals.

Michael Wielianski, right, congratulates Spencer Horwitz (4) and Noah Mendlinger after they scored for Israel in the eighth inning of a 3-1 win over Nicaragua in the World Baseball Classic, Sunday, March 12, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) (Martha Lavandier)

Israel is one of those nations with no baseball tradition, but with a roster of American-raised players with major league experience, like the power-hitting Joc Pederson. Israel is the same example of Italy, which entered Group A.

Puerto Rico clearly understands that they cannot underestimate Israel, who advanced to the second round in 2017.

“Every game is extremely important, regardless of the opponent,” said Puerto Rico pitcher Martin “Machete” Maldonado.

Puerto Rico has a 3-0 record against unheralded nations like Israel. Add two wins over Italy and one over Spain.