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RP Baseball Team optimistic about WBC Qualifier chances



They might have had little time to prepare, but the country’s finest batters are confident they can bring Philippine baseball back to the world stage.

The Crack Philippine National Baseball team left for Sydney Friday, February 5, to compete in the 2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers to be held at the Blacktown International Sportspark in Sydney, Australia from February 11-14, 2016.
Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times RP Baseball Team optimistic about WBC Qualifier chances
The Philippine team qualified for the last level before the world championship after winning the 2015 East Asian Baseball Cup. However, the team faced a problem afterwards.

The Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium, the largest baseball field in the country, though still below regulation size standards, was not available due to a supposed renovation that did not push through. The National Team’s head coach Wilfredo Hidalgo and the team took this as a challenge and still continued to make the most out of the few practices the team had.

“Ayos naman. Nasulit naman yung oras na nakalaan sa amin although late na kami na pinayagan mag-training dito (Rizal Memorial). May balak kasi na ayusin ‘to so kami nag-adjust,” Hidalgo said. “Nakasimula na kami kasi ng training January na.”

The team’s composition is split evenly with 14 homegrown players – majority coming from the UAAP and Mindanao – and 14 Filipino-foreigners.The Fil-foreigners that are set to represent the country include former Major League pitcher Clay Rapada and two minor league players, single A player Brad Haynal and double A player Angelo Songco.

Chris AguilaOF
Adriane Bernardo2B
Ernesto BinaraoLHP
Leslie CabilingRHP
Brady Conlan3B
Edmer Del SocorroC
Vladimir EguiaLHP
Eric FarrisOF
Taylor GarrisonRHP
Austin HaynalRHP
Brad HaynalC
Romeo JasminRHP
Ryan JuarezRHP
Ferdinand LiguayanOF
Paulo MacasaetOF
Alfredo OlivaresC
Jennald ParejaSS
Ronel PeraltaRHP
Jonash PonceOF
Devon RamirezLHP
Clay RapadaLHP
Jon Jon RoblesLHP
Angelo Songco1B
Kevin VanceRHP
Matt VanceSS
Vermon DiazOF
Joshua WongINF

The local players, though, have yet to meet their other teammates. “Dun na kami magkikita sa Australia,” Hidalgo shared to Tiebreaker Times. “Kaya nag-decide ang presidente namin (Marty Eizmendi) na February 5 kami dadating imbes na 8 para may two days kami na practice ng team. Tapos may MLB practice pa na regular practice para magkaroon ng gelling.”

The National Team is not worried that the team might not mesh due to the short time the entire team will spend together before the tournament commences. “Malaking bagay yung two days na yun. At the top level kasi na laro, makikita mo na kaagad kung paano i-aadjust yung sarili mo sa mga hindi mo na kasama,” the coach added about how big of an advantage it is for the team to be in Sydney two days earlier than expected. “Gaya namin na beterano na sa international, galaw pa lang ng isang player malalaman mo na. Paghawak pa lang niya ng bat, pagtakbo pa lang, alam mo na.”

Even with MLB minor league players and major league pitcher in the roster, Hidalgo believes that the home-grown talents on the team will not be left behind. “Sa pitchers si Paulo Macasaet. Unang-una talagang batak na batak na at yung puso niya nandoon para sa laro,” he said about current Ateneo sophomore and the East Asia Cup MVP. “Sa fielders si Aids Bernardo at Jennald Pareja. Kaya nilang tapatan ang mga makakalaban natin.”

When asked about the team’s chances to qualify for the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Hidalgo, beaming with confidence, said, “Mas maganda ang bracket natin ngayon. Mas napabuti na hindi natin kasama yung China at Chinese-Taipei. Mas bigger yung chances natin.”

“Yung Australia puwede pa natin matalo. Hindi na sila parang last 2012 na may kaunting pagkakamali lang sa coaching yun. Pati yung New Zealand kaya natin yun.”

“80% ang chance natin. Kelangan pa rin ng dasal siyempre. Baka kung makapasok tayo sa World Baseball Classic sa 2017 yun na yung start ng pagbabalik ng baseball,” he continued. Moreover, he is hoping that this help in the resurgence of baseball in the country. “Ang kelangan lang naman talaga sa atin ay makita ulit na may baseball pala at softball. Malalaman nila na hindi kelangan ng height, eto yung sport na hindi kelangan na sobrang laki.”

At the end of the day, they are just proud to represent the three stars and the sun once more.

The Philippines will open their 2017 World Baseball Classic campaign against hosts Australia on February 11.

Here is the complete schedule of the four-day tournament

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times RP Baseball Team optimistic about WBC Qualifier chances
Games will be shown on Solar Sports