SASKATOON, Canada – The Philippines opens its campaign in the International Softball Federation world men’s championship against Great Britain today at the Bob Van Impe Stadium at the Gordon Howe Park here.
The Blu Boys and their British counterparts clash in the second game of a nine-game schedule where all the 16 teams, representing the best in worldwide qualifying tournaments, will see action.
Despite losing their two-game tune-up matches Tuesday, team and delegation oficials, headed by coach Zacky Bacarisas, are confident they could improve on the ninth place finish of the Blu Boys five years ago in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The Philippines, whose trip here is sponsored by Cebuana Lhuillier, Pera Padala, Le Soleil de Boracay, Philten and the Philippine Sports Commission, earned the right to carry Asia’s colors in the tournament on the strength of its second place finish behind Japan, the eventual champion in the regional elimination two years ago.
“We are bracketed in a powerhouse group with two world champions but the boys are ready,” Bacarisas said.
Bacarisas, who is coaching in his first world championship, was referring to defending champion New Zealand and the United States, two of only three nations that have so far won this tournament since it started in 1966.
The Kiwis, in fact, are batting for their fourth straight title and fifth overall. The Americans had also won the crown four times.
In a message relayed to Amateur Softball Association-Philippines operations manager Jun Veloso, who is accompanying the Blu Boys along with delegation head Kiko Diaz, ASA-Phils. president Jean Henri Lhuillier urged the boys to play their best and do honor to the country and the Filipinos.
“You will be playing against the best in the world. You are there in Canada because you happen to be one of the finest softball players in the world. So just play the way you used to and carry the country’s colors well,” Lhuillier said.