Philippine baseball is coming back to the Southeast Asian region in a big way thanks to a motley group of young batters from the collegiate ranks, its new leadership and the all-out support of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
Philippine Amateur Baseball Association (PABA) president Chito Loyzaga is at the front and center of what he anticipates to be a baseball renaissance in the country, beginning with a looming gold medal in the coming 30th Southeast Asian Games, which the country is hosting.
“Our biggest competitors in baseball are Indonesia and Thailand because may mga programa rin sila sa mga lower age levels. But I will bet my name, siguradong gold tayo this time,” Loyzaga said of his wards in the sport of baseball that is making a comeback to the SEA Games after three absences.
The team is currently playing in the2019 Asian Baseball Championship in Taichung, Taiwan as part of its final preparations for the biennial meet.
“We are on schedule. When the men’s team comes back (from Taiwan), I think we’ll have a few practices here and siguro mga two weeks before sometime in the middle of November, doon na sila mag-eensayo sa Clark para masanay na sila sa venue, sa talbog ng bola, sa lahat.”
After stunning China in the Asian tournament on Wednesday, 1-0, the Philippines bowed to South Korea, 2-12. On the same day, the Chinese beat the Koreans, 4-3, forcing a three-way tie at 2-1 (win-loss) among the Philippines, China and Korea. A better tie-break record, however, put South Korea and China in the super round, alongside Japan and host Chinese Taipei.
But for Loyzaga, son of Filipino basketball great Carlos Loyzaga, the message was loud and clear – the Philippines belongs in the big league.
“This is really part of their training program that they underwent in preparation for the SEAG. Doon sa Men’s Championship, nandoon ‘yung mga big countries, among them are Japan, Korea, and Chin. That was the game plan, to win over China,” said Loyzaga.
“Unfortunately lang, hindi tumugma dahil hindi naman under our control na natalo ng China ang Korea. Kahit ano pa man, sabi ko sa kanila na we will stick to our game plan and I’m happy for all of you for achieving something and we did what we have to do and we were also able to show to everyone that we are here to compete.”
“I want to take this opportunity to thank the Philippine Sports Commission for all the support they have given to us, not only sa national team. As of now, we have established the first-ever Philippine women’s baseball team and they will compete next month in China, representing the country,” said Loyzaga.
“It’s in our mandate to support sports projects, as many as our funds can allow,” Ramirez said. “And baseball, which had produced great Filipino athletes in the past, is among the sports where we are hoping to see a revival.”
Loyzaga assumed the sport’s presidency only in June of last year but in such a short time, the team was able to focus on its immediate task, which was to prepare for the SEA Games by forming two baseball tournaments before and after the University Athletic Association of the Philippines to give the players actual game-time experience. The PABA has also formed its first-ever women’s baseball team.
“This post-season game was really intended to prepare the team to the recent international game. At least masanay sila, more games. Though being champion is not in our radar, ang objective talaga namin was to perform well. And one of our objectives also na sana matalo natin ang China,” said Loyzaga, whose wards comprise mostly of players from the UAAP.