MANILA, Philippines - Officials of the Philippine Amateur Baseball Association (PABA) remain hopeful that former NFL quarterback and minor league player Tim Tebow can play for the country in the qualifiers of the World Baseball Classic.
Tebow, who rose to stardom as the quarterback of the Florida Gators, was included in the Philippines' line-up for the qualifying tournament in February 2020.
He is eligible to play for the Philippines, having been born in Makati to an American couple who were Baptist missionaries here in 1987.
The qualifiers were scheduled for March 2020, but were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Major League Baseball (MLB) has yet to announce a new schedule for the tournament, which offers two slots to the 2021 World Baseball Classic that takes place in March 2021.
"In the World Baseball Classic, once we know the schedule, he will still remain for us as a potential player," said Pepe Muñoz, the secretary-general of PABA, during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday.
However, Muñoz acknowledged that Tebow's participation in the qualifiers may hinge on his schedule as the 33-year-old outfielder is still pursuing a professional career in baseball.
In November, the president of the New York Mets, Sandy Alderson, revealed that Tebow intended to return to the franchise for the 2021 season.
"The New York Mets are enjoying a benefit by his participation, so it's a mutual benefit between Tim Tebow and the New York Mets. And so he will continue to be a member of the program of the Mets, at least for this year," said Muñoz.
Tebow had expressed his excitement to join the Philippines when he was included in the line-up last year, tweeting: "Grateful and excited to play for team Philippines in the @WBCbaseball ... the country I was born in and somewhere that is near and dear to my heart!"
The Philippines is grouped with Britain, New Zealand, Spain, Panama and the Czech Republic in the qualifiers.
Defending champion United States is already in the 20-team lineup for the fifth World Baseball Classic, which will be staged March 9-23, 2021, in Taiwan, Japan, Phoenix, Arizona and Miami, Florida.
Two teams each from the Asian venues and the US sites will advance to the semifinals March 21 at Marlins Park in Miami, with the winner's meeting for the title on March 23.
Japan won the first two Classic crowns in 2006 and 2009 followed by the Dominican Republic in 2013 as elite talent from the top global leagues met in unprecedented showdowns for their homelands. -- With a report from Agence France-Presse.