MANILA, Philippines – The 2012 XXVI Asian Baseball Championships is set to begin on Wednesday, November 28th in Tai-chung, Taiwan where the Philippines will try its luck against the region’s best baseball teams.
The Philippine team, fresh from their enriching experience at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) Qualifiers just last week, is raring for a shot at this prestigious event. The main championship tournament in Asia governed by the Baseball Federation of Asia (BFA), was last played in Japan in 2009 and gathers the region’s national teams including Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Pakistan and China.
The country will be represented by 24 players, approximately half of whom played in the WBC qualifier.
While the Philippines’ last win was in 1964, team manager Marty Eizmendi expressed confidence in their chances, as he sees the WBC experience as a beginning of a good learning curve.
“This was a very positive experience and from here we can only grow and move forward developing the sport,” said Eizmendi.
The pitching rotation will include 7 of the country’s best hurlers. At the forefront of this group are Ernesto Binarao, Charlie Labrador, Darwin Dela Calzada, Vladimir Eguia, Romeo Jasmin Jr., and Jon-Jon Robles all of whom saw action at the WBC qualifier.
Joining them is one of the Philippines’ up and coming young pitchers, Carlos Alberto Munoz.
The name of the game remains to be the team’s ability to string hits and support this offensive aggression with intelligent base running. The presence of spitfires in the team like Christian Canlas, Joseph Orillana, Jonash Ponce and Fulgencio Rances Jr. should provide the spark the Philippines will be needing.
Wilfredo Hidalgo Jr. and Roel Empacis will continue their coaching duties. Both coaches are upbeat and hope to continue their winning streak as they come into this tournament as SEA games and East Asia champions.
The strength of this team lies on their years of playing together. Being familiar with how each of them play should allow more cohesive teamwork, with the objective of keeping errors to a minimum and to mount well-oiled offense.
Another positive point going into this tournament is the fact that the Filipino players have played against most of the players in the opposing teams so they do know the competition. No surprises are expected from even the Taiwan team as scouting reports are expected to be accurate.
Bringing it back
The team is also inspired to challenge Japan, the region’s top dog, which has won the tournament four times in a row.
After the Philippines’ 1954 win, Japan reportedly started sending coaches over to the Philippines to learn the game. Getting valuable knowledge from the Filipino players back then, the Japanese then enhanced this know-how and made it their own.
The Philippine team members know this story all too well and will use it as a motivation in the tournament.
On the other hand, the baseball teams of Taiwan, Korea, China and defending champion Japan are all expected to be made up of their best players as well, since the recognition of being the baseball powerhouse of the region is at stake.
The Filipinos have been practicing for close to 3 months now, putting in 4 hours 5 days a week to ensure that their bats are ready come game time.
A win will succesfully put the Philippines back on the baseball map, and may jumpstart the country’s trek to baseball greatness once again. – Rappler.com