NO questions about it, the Blu Boys will be in a tough fight at the Softball World Cup in Auckland, New Zealand late next month.
We qualified there after we finished second to powerhouse Japan in the last Asian Softball Championship but will now face the best 11 teams in the world.
In fact in their very first game, the Blu Boys will go up against the 9-time champion United States, then against defending champion Argentina, then Cuba , New Zealand, and Czechoslovakia, and we need to win at least 3 games out of the 5 to advance to next round.
Last Monday evening, I drove to the posh Manila Polo Club in Makati to watch the Blu Boys practice playing under lights, they are not used to it but will play some games in the World Cup under such conditions, at the same time that ASAPHIL President Jean Henri Lhuillier would also be there to watch too and for a team huddle.
JHL , as he is more known, believes we have nothing to lose and everything to gain, we are the lowest ranked team there at 21st, and if we were to make it to the next round, he will be more than happy.
You see he looks at being in the top ten in the world, top two in Asia, and champion in Southeast Asia as the norms to meet for the Blu Boys, we failed at the Southeast Asian level in 2019 as we lost to Singapore in the finals. We lost again to Singapore in the Asian but still made it to secobd place though.
It is a good team we are sending, both promising rookies from the UAAP and the provinces together with veterans, but still, JHL cites the 3 important factors for the team, our pitching, speed in batting and running, and power, and those are the things head coach Apol Rosales is working on.
Apol is a good choice for the team, he has the stature and the credentials and I liked the hands on approach he employs in mentoring the team, staying right there in the field and breaking down a play into specifics, what worked, what did not work.
It is the same with JHL, he understands the nuances of the game as he plays competitive softball too but the slo pitch one, he observes the players and makes intelligent assessments right there and then.
As part of the team’s preparation, Apol is coordinating a local invitational tournanent early November with possibly the Army and Air Force teams and some strong provincial teams from Batangas and Cavite, while JHL has decided to send the team a week ahead of time to enable it to play a few pre-tournament practice games in Auckland.
Unfortunately, JHL may not make it to Auckland for the event due to pressing business concerns and it will be ASAPHIL Sec-Gen Cheska Altamonte who will head the delegation next month.
The team has also undergone two teambuilding sessions at the Cebuana Lhuillier’s training facilities in Antipolo, much needed as the team is a half half mix of rookies and veterans.
I did ask Apol about our chances, he accepts that it will be a tough assignment , especially facing an ex- champion and a reigning champion teams in the first two games, then a host team in its 4th game.
Not to mention that both Cuba and the Czech Republic teams are competitive too, the key is beating the last two teams, then upset New Zealand.
I wish them all the luck in the world.
LOOSE CHANGE: I am happy for my friend Nino Sinco, from being a national archer, he is now a coach with the national archery team….F2 Logistics team validated my faith in them, from 0-2, now they are 2-2 in the PVL Reinforced Conference…..am off to Mt. Banahaw Nov. 12-13, to bring initial batch of gifts for kids there, this is for my December Christmas gift giving for indigent kds in the area, my 18th year I think if doing it. By Lito Cinco