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MANILA, Philippines - On Saturday, November 10, a 28-man-strong baseball team will be flying to Taipei to compete in one of the four qualifying brackets for a chance to play at the World Baseball Classic in 2013.
The Philippine national baseball team, formed and organized by the Philippine Amateur Baseball Association (PABA), will be attempting to make a name for themselves in the international arena of the sport of baseball.
The team's core is composed of 16 players carried over from the team that won the gold in the recently concluded South East Asian Games.
Led by local coaches Wilfredo Hidalgo Jr. and Roel Empacis, the nucleus of the team are seasoned veterans all eager to make the country proud.
The very best
The World Baseball Classic, as team manager Marty Eizmendi describes it, is the equivalent of the World Cup in football so it is expected all teams will be fielding their very best.
Grouped in the Philippines bracket are teams from New Zealand, Thailand and Chinese Taipei.
The Philippine roster will be bolstered by the presence of 11 Filipino Americans and 1 Filipino Japanese. Led by MLB pitcher Geno Espinelli, these professional baseball players greatly increase the team's opportunity to move on to the next bracket as they bring in not just additional brawn but also invaluable in-game experience at the highest level.
Additional support will be coming from international baseball coaches such as Jim Ramos and Billy Thomas.
Billy Champion, who will be playing the role of pitching coach, is also expected to greatly strengthen the team's chance of getting through the powerhouse team of host Taiwan.
The team will be travelling with a total of 13 pitchers, namely Darwin de la Calzada, Jon Jon Robles, Ernesto Binarao, Charlie Labrador, Eguia Vladimir, Jasmin Romeo Jr., Joseph Orillana, Carlos Alberto Munoz, Ryuya Ogawa, Geno Espinelli, Max Javate, Alec Rosales and Devon Bryce Ramirez.
According to coach Hidalgo, in order to beat Taiwan, the Philippines must be able to string their hits together and at the same time control Taiwan's offense.
One way to do that, he said, is to have a lot of pitchers who can throw at the middle 90s (mph) and who can mix their pitches. Having a list of 13 reliable mound generals should allow them to stay close.
This is not to say that they will take New Zealand and Thailand lightly but Chinese Taipei is the recognized powerhouse so the preparation of the team is focused on besting them.
Japan has topped the 1st and the 2nd World Baseball Classic tournament and will be defending the crown this year.
The World Baseball Classic is a tournament sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBF)supported heavily by Major League Baseball (MLB). - Rappler.com