The Philippine baseball team will face significant challenges in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. Despite missing the quadrennial event in 2010, 2014, and 2018, the Filipino batters have vowed to deliver a strong performance in the sport, which will take place from September 27 to October 7.
“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.
However, actions speak louder than words for the Filipinos, who are currently ranked 36th in the world. One significant challenge is the Philippines’ placement in a group with China, ranked 23rd in the world, and Japan, ranked 1st. To advance to the next round, the Philippines must secure at least one victory against these two teams and another against a fourth qualifier in the group, which could be 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 on par with China. In 2019, we defeated China 1-0. So, we will give our best. While beating Japan is a challenging task, we may find a way. Only the top two teams from each group will advance to the super round. That’s why defeating China is crucial,” he added.
The Filipino team, with coaching staff members Isaac Bacarisas and Orlando Binarao, will head to Hangzhou with high confidence following their recent title sweep in the BFA East Asian Baseball Cup and their gold-medal performance in the 2019 SEA Games held in the Philippines.
“Malakas talaga ang Japan. Pero we will do our best,” said Bernardo in the forum presented by San Miguel Corporation, Philippine Sports Commission, MILO® Philippines, Philippine Olympic Committee, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).