For Philippine Amateur Baseball Association and Philippine Baseball National Team, play World Baseball Classic is their dream.
Philippine did not participate in 2009 and 2013; however, due to the rule change at the 3rd World Baseball Classic, they have the opportunity to attend the 2013 World Baseball Classic, if they are the winner of the Qualifier Pool 4. They are preparing to fight with New Zealand, Thailand and Chinese Taipei on November 15 to 18 at the Xinzhuang Stadium in New Taipei City, Taiwan.
They know the San Francisco Giants ace pitcher Tim Lincecum is qualified to represent the Philippines since his mother Rebecca Asis, has a Filipino blood. His great-grandparents Alberta and Genaro Asis were from Cebu and Siquijor provinces. But although San Francisco Giants has approved Tim to play, Lincecum declined the invitation due to personal reason, so does New York Yankees relief pitcher Clay Rapada.
(Photo via Nathanael Hevelone, CC License)
Even they lost two Major League players, PABA secretary general Thomas Navasero still were confident about their chance:
I think we are going to win. We have the strongest team formed in the history of the Philippines. We have players who can throw curveballs and dropballs. We have skilled players we are bringing in.”
National team manager Marty Eizmendi also has same feeling:
We might just surprise everyone in Taipei, We’re the underdogs but with our Fil-Ams, we’re unpredictable.”
“The MLB is very supportive of our campaign to promote baseball and they’re paying to fly over the Fil-Ams. They’re footing the bill for board, lodging, transportation and even uniforms. If we make an impact in Taipei, it will be a tremendous accomplishment for Philippine baseball.”
“The Fil-Ams aren’t being paid a fee to play. They’re all excited to play for the national team. We’ll be fighting in Taipei to make our country proud and give back to everyone who has supported us from Day One.”
This team will be managed by Jim Ramos, a Filipino-American coach. National head coach Wilfredo Hidalgo Jr., local coaches Roel Empacis, international coaches Billy Thomas will also be part of the six-man coaching staff. Pitching Coach Billy Champion is expected to greatly strengthen the team’s chance of getting through the host Taiwan.
The 28-man baseball team is composed of 16 homegrown players like Jon Jon Robles, Charlie Labrador, Darwin dela Calzada, Vladymir Eguia, Romeo Jasmin, Joseph Orillana, Jonash Ponce, Rommel Roja, Ramil Empacis, Ruben Angeles and Ernesto Binarao, who carried over the team that won the gold medal in the 2011 Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia.
The remainder Philippine member will include11 Filipino Americans and 1 Filipino Japanese. Led by MLB southpaw pitcher Geno Espinelli, who was born in Houston to Filipino parents Leonilo Espineli, a UP engineering graduate from Cavite, and Thelma Macalalag of Lumban, Laguna.
The other Fil-Ams squad are Edwin Jimenez, Jonathan Laygo of the Fresno White Sox, Andres Vasquez of Rutgers University, William Ireton of the East L.A. Dodgers, Trent Garrison of the Los Angeles Angels, Kurt Rathjens, Devon Bryce Ramirez of California State-Dominguez, Fil-Japanese pitcher Ryuya Ogawa of the Chunichi Dragons of the Nippon Professional Baseball, and Leighton Michael Pangilinan of the Chicago White Sox minor league, Chad Nacapoy, and Ryan Pineda.
There are total 13 pitchers for the team, include Darwin de la Calzada, Jon Jon Robles, Ernesto Binarao, Charlie Labrador, Eguia Vladimir, Jasmin Romeo Jr., Joseph Orillana, Carlos Alberto Munoz, Ryuya Ogawa, Geno Espinelli, Max Javate, Alec Rosales and Devon Bryce Ramirez, some of them can throw at the middle 90s (mph) and mix their pitches, will try to keep the game close.
Is it enough to bypass the other three teams? Only time will tell.