PH side looking to overachieve in Asian Baseball Championship
Odds may not be in the Philippines’ favor, but the Philippine Amateur Baseball Association (PABA) is hoping for the best in the 28th Asian Baseball Championship from October 2 to 8 in New Taipei City, Taiwan.
PABA secretary general Chito Loyzaga said that not much is expected from the squad in the eight-team tournament, but the Filipinos are looking to gain the respect of our neighbors when it comes to the baseball field.
“That’s our target this year: to send a signal that we are here, alive and kicking, and that we are going to participate,” he said.
The Philippines will be parading a crew bannered by homegrown talents composed of standouts from the UAAP.
Reigning UAAP best pitcher Paulo Macasaet, catcher Dino Altomonte, and infielders Javi Macasaet and Marco Mallari will be representing UAAP defending champion Ateneo, together with shortstop Aids Bernardo, who last donned the national team colors in the 2016 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers.
Also in the lineup are UAAP Most Valuable Player Iggy Escano, Diego Lozano, sophomore Geof Magsadia, senior Kiko Gesmundo, and Carlos Munoz from La Salle; Jerome Yenson, Erwin Bosito, and Mark Manaig from Adamson; Alfredo de Guzman and Clarence Calisaan from NU; and pitchers Ron dela Cruz and lefty Lesmar Ventura from UST.
Backstopping the team are veterans Jarus Inobio, Joennard Pareja, Jennald Pareja, Jonash Ponce, Jon-Jon Robles, and Romeo Jasmin.
“It’s a young team and I heard that the average age is 22 years old, but we’re happy to see how they will perform,” said Loyzaga.
NU softball head coach Egay delos Reyes will serve as the team manager and he will be assisted by UST legend Jeffrey Santiago, Adamson great Orlando Binarao, and champion coach Joseph Orillana of La Salle.
Loyzaga is hoping the country could send a strong signal that the Philippines is more than ready to compete in the baseball field alongside its Asian foes.
“I told the boys that this is the top tournament in Asia and you will face the top teams in the continent here, including three of the top four teams in the world. I always want to win, but winning is not everything. If we don’t win on the field, I hope all of you earn their respect as Filipino athletes and as the national team,” he said.
The Philippines is bracketed in Group A in the preliminary round, where it will face host and fourth-ranked team in the world Chinese-Taipei on Monday, Sri Lanka on Tuesday, and the third-best team in the world South Korea on Wednesday.
The top two teams in the two groups will proceed to the semifinals, while the bottom four will clash in classification matches.