Last Thursday, the Philippine National Baseball Team retained their crown as the best batters in East Asia.
In the five-nation meet, the Filipinos battled Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Thailand – all of whom are headed to the 2018 Asian Games. The champions of the qualifier for the 2019 Asian Baseball Championship are not.
Even if they knew they had slim hopes of being part of the Philippine contingent in the quadrennial meet, the 23 men that headed to Hong Kong still trained harder than ever before.
Take for example reigning UAAP Athlete of the Year Kiko Gesmundo, who had just come off a grueling UAAP Season.
“Halos hindi naman ako natigil mag-training kasi sa La Salle may conditioning training kami tapos sa RP may training din kami na field training kaya maganda condition ng katawan ko,” the 24-year-old pitcher shared.
“Yung naging motivation ko talaga is this is the National Team – kailangan namin mag step up every game na bigyan kami ng chance maglaro.”
Playing on an international field has been an experience that the Filipino batters made sure to relish.
Back in 2015, the Philippines had also won the East Asia Cup, giving them a ticket to the Asian Championship. However, the country forfeited its spot due to financial and managerial issues faced by the country’s national baseball association.
They were able to return to the big dance in 2017.
Seeing their opponents using this tournament as their preparation for the Asiad only fueled their thirst to beat them even more.
“Ginawa namin motivation yung wala kami sa list ng sasali sa Asian Games na baka ‘pag maganda kinalabasan ng tournament na ito baka mag bago ang isip nila at isama kami sa list.
“Napasok sa isip ko na tinalo nga namin yung tatlo na pupunta sa Asian Games. Sila kasali sa Asian Games eh, kami nag-champion tapos hindi kami kasama,” expressed Gesmundo, who was adjudged as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player making him the best baseball player in the region.
Still, the team will continue to train. Still, they will continue to fight for flag and country.
Still, they will continue to believe that support will come their way.
“Isa pang motivation ng buong team is to prove that our team is ready to perform for the Asian Games. Gusto namin makasama sa Asian Games ready kami to compete. Hindi ko lang alam bakit wala kami sa teams na ipapadala sa Asian Games? Kaya namin makipagasabayan sa mga makakalaban namin dun,” the La Sallian opined.
“Sana maibalik yung program at supporta sa baseball kasi kaya makipag-compete ng Pinoy ngayon pano pa kaya pag nagkaroon na ng malaking supporta sa amin e ‘di mas magkakaroon ng mataas na level lalo ang baseball sa Pilipinas,” he pointed out.
“Naniniwala ako na maibabalik natin ito at patuloy pa rin kaming lalaban para sa Pilipinas.”
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