MANILA -- The Philippine baseball team will be up against tall odds in the 19th Asian Games, as they are set to play powerhouse squads Japan and China in the group stage.
But the team, which missed the last three stagings of the Asiad, is looking embracing the challenge.
"We're looking forward to it. We deserve to be in the Asian Games," said Philippine Amateur Baseball Association (PABA) secretary-general Pepe Munoz during Tuesday's Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
The Filipinas are ranked 36th in the world, and are bracketed with world No. 23 China and world No. 1 Japan. To advance to the next round, the Philippines must win at least one of these two games, and one against a fourth qualifier to the group – either Singapore or Thailand.
In the other group are South Korea (world No. 4 and reigning Asian Games champion), Chinese-Taipei (No. 5), Hong Kong (No. 45) and a fourth qualifier.
"The Asian Games is very important because it has a very big impact on our world ranking. And we get the chance to compete and show who we are," said Munoz, who was joined in the forum by team members Adrian Bernardo and Jenald Pareja.
"I believe we're at the same level with China," added Munoz, who recalled that they defeated China, 1-0, when they played in 2019.
"We will do our best. We will be there to win. It’s hard to beat Japan. But maybe we can find a way. Only the top two teams from each group will advance to the super round. That’s why it’s very important to beat China."
The Filipinos are coming off a sweep in the BFA East Asian Baseball Cup and won a gold medal on home soil in the 2019 Asian Games.
The Asian Games will officially open in Hangzhou on September 23. The baseball competition is scheduled from September 26 to October 7.