MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Blu Boys leave for Japan Tuesday to carry the country’s colors in the Asian Men’s Softball Championship set Oct. 25-28 in Miimi City, Okayama.
The 21-man contingent, headed by Amateur Softball Association-Philippines operations manager Jun Veloso, and is made up of the team that won the 2011 Southeast Asian Games via a sweep.
The short but tough tournament also serves as the Asian qualifier for the 2013 World Men’s Championship scheduled March in New Zealand, according to Veloso during Friday’s SCOOP Sa Kamayan session.
“The tournament is only for three days, but what makes it tough is all six teams will be playing doubleheader each day,” Veloso said during the forum, sponsored by Powerade, AKTV and FILA. “Ubusan ng pitcher ito.”
Defending champion Japan heads the six-team field, which includes SEA Games runner-up Indonesia, India, Singapore and Hong Kong.
The Miimi qualifying competition marks the second straight time that the Philippines is taking part under ASA-Phil president Jean Henri Lhuillier following the Blu Boys’ similar stint in 2006 in Fukuoka, Japan, where they ended up with the silver medal behind their hosts.
Their runner-up finish earned for the Filipinos the trip to the World Championship site in Canada where they finished a respectable 10th in the 16-nation cast. Leo Barredo, then a rookie, was adjudged the 10th best hurler.
Barredo, now battle-scarred in the international arenas playing for Rizal Technological U, head the Blu Boys’ five-man pitching rotation, which includes Zamboangueno Florante Acuna, Marlon Pagkaliwagan also of RTU, Rogelio Rojas of Army and Gregorio Marquez of the Navy.
“Ubusan nga ng pitcher ang torneo, so we are sending five pitchers as cushion to what we expect will be a tough grind for the boys,” Veloso told his SCOOP audience.
Like in the previous Asian jousts, Japan will be the team to beat although Veloso said beating the hosts won’t be a remote possibility.
“Tinatalo na rin naman natin ang Japan, kaya lang sa earlier rounds. Lagi tayong talo sa championship playoff eh. But now the prospect is bright that we can win the title,” he said, adding that the top 3 teams in Miimi advance to the world tilt.
Three other Armymen who made the team are Dario Bacarisas, Oscar Bradshaw and Ben Maraviles along with Navymen Orlando Binarao and Jasper Cabrera and RTU’s Jerome Bacarisas and Michael Pagkaliwagan.
Others in the Blu Boys roster are Apolonio Rosales of Batangas, and Isidro Abello, Edmer del Socorro and Anthony Santos of Air Force.
Many-time national coach Robert Iturralde of Air Force will again be calling the plays from the bench with Rizel Santos, Joel Binarao and Rey Pagkaliwagan assisting.