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Tiebreaker Times


Kobe Torres’ international experience shines when it mattered most for UP

Saying Kobe Torres’ 2023 was busy would be an understatement, as it was the year he represented both University of the Philippines and his country, the Philippines itself, in the sport he loves — baseball.

He made his UAAP debut with the Fighting Maroons at the start of the year, helping the squad reach the Finals for the first time since Season 68 and finish as the runner-up.

Torres then made his international debut in the senior national men’s squad at the Asian Games from September to October, even securing a win against Thailand in the Placement Round.

The young upstart expressed his gratitude, saying, “Siguro, ‘yun experience na na-gain ko talaga. Natuto ko kung paano maging mama sa laro, ‘yung pagiging senior. Sa international kasi ibang-iba ‘yung laro kaysa rito. Tsaka ‘yung pakikisama at ‘yung lahat ng natutunan ko sa national team nashe-share ko sa mga kasama ko rito sa team.”

After a stellar first year with the Maroons, the product of First Asia Institute of Technology and Humanities seemed to step back from the spotlight when UAAP Season 86 started, until the very last game of the eliminations.

“Siguro, masyado akong nag-focus sa pitching (with the national team and sa UP), kaya siguro nawalan ako ng opensa, ng batting. Hindi ko masyadong pinag-igihan ‘yung sa pagpalo kaya wala rin akong opensa ngayon,” Torres shared.UAAP-86-Baseball-UP-Kennedy-Torres-05721 Kobe Torres' international experience shines when it mattered most for UP Baseball News UAAP UP  - philippine sports news

Nonetheless, when the crucial time came — a must-win battle against Ateneo de Manila University — the pride of Batangas came through in both ends of the field as its designated hitter and pitcher.

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Getting on base for all his at-bats was one step in gaining confidence on offense, but it was on the mound where he showed up despite adversity, especially in the seventh inning.

The Blue Eagles capitalized on the Fighting Maroons’ change in the battery partnership as rookie catcher Eman Javier took the place of Mark Liwanagan, scoring four runs to snag the lead at 12-11.

Torres then guided Javier into taking out the next three batters — all of them through strikeouts.

“Inisip ko kasi talaga going into this game is makatulong sa team sa pitching at sa pagpalo. Sabi nga ni Ian (Mercado, UP’s team captain), it’s now or never, kaya binigay ko na lahat ng makakaya ko para manalo ‘yung team ngayon,” he said.

“Kaya nung naka-score sila ng apat, tinuloy ko lang ‘yung ginagawa ko. Hinayaan ko lang namang tumama kasi may tiwala pa rin ako sa teammates ko. Kaya kahit marami silang nag-score tinuloy ko lang ‘yung role ko sa team.”

That defensive stand inspired an eventual closing four-run binge with Torres stepping into the first base again — this time with four balls from the Ateneo pitcher — leading to a run for himself, as UP came out with the 15-12 win.

A victory that gave the Fighting Maroons a chance to get back to the Finals — but with a steeper climb starting with a playoff against University of Santo Tomas in less than 48 hours.

Now that the fourth-year Physical Education major has awakened from his slump, the Fighting Maroons are ready to face the possible next games — all of them must-wins — with much more confidence.

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“Makakatulong pa rin sa ‘min talaga is ‘yung teamwork. Walang bibitaw hangga’t hindi pa natatapos ‘yung laro, hangga’t hindi pa ‘yan nagti-three outs ng nine innings. Kasi from now on, every game is a championship game,” Torres concluded.

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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