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Philippine baseball’s push resumes this year, officials say

PHILIPPINE baseball is looking to make up for lost time this year after it got sidelined by the coronavirus last year, officials said.

Speaking at the online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday, officials of the Philippine Amateur Baseball Association (PABA) said this year is poised to be a busy one for the country’s baseball squads, with international competitions originally set for 2020 lined up in the coming months.

“Now, they (international federation) are slating everything this year. But it will still depend on the progress of the vaccine [for the coronavirus],” said PABA vice-president Boy Tingzon.

Among the competitions they are gearing up for, the officials said, is the Women’s Baseball World Cup slated to take place from March 1 to 9 in Tijuana, Mexico.

PABA said the Under-23 competition carries much significance as it presents an opportunity for the Philippines to barge into the top 10 in the world rankings.

“This is a world event and this is the best time for us to move up in the standings in the world. We can even break into the top 10,” said Mr. Tingzon.

The Philippines is currently ranked 15th in the division.

To prepare for the tournament, Mr. Tingzon said they at PABA have already asked for approval from the Philippine Sports Commission to allow them to return to face-to-face training in a “bubble” setting. Venue is the INSPIRE Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.

The federation added that the players have expressed readiness to go into bubble training, seeing how it will go a long way in further shoring up their game as they move to compete against the best teams in the world.

In Mexico, the Philippines is to face powerhouse teams like Japan, Chinese Taipei, Canada, Mexico, United States, France, Australia, Dominican Republic and the Netherlands.

Other competitions the country is looking at competing in this year are the men’s Asian Baseball Championship in October and the men’s youth 12-under, 15-under and 18-under tournaments.

PABA, however, lamented the non-inclusion of the sport in this year’s edition of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Vietnam in November but it remains undeterred in its mission of continuing to push baseball to the fore and highlight its potential as a sporting discipline that Filipinos can excel in.

“Unfortunately, there is no baseball in this year’s SEA Games. But even without the SEA Games, we’re going to be quite busy,” said PABA secretary-general Pepe Muñoz, who joined Mr. Tingzon in the forum.

In the last edition of the SEA Games in 2019 held here, the Philippine national men’s baseball team won the gold in the competition, beating Thailand, 15-2, in the championship game. It was the third baseball gold for the country in the SEA Games, which was first played in 2005.

PABA is currently headed by former Philippine Basketball Association player Joaquin “Chito” C. Loyzaga, who was elected Philippine Olympic Committee auditor in last year’s elections. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo

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