January 10, 2020
MANILA, Philippines (The Philippine Star) - January 8, 2020 — Philippine Amateur Baseball Association (PABA) president Chito Loyzaga said yesterday big plans are being laid out to promote the sport this year coming off a gold medal finish with the men’s team at the recent Southeast Asian Games.
“First, we’re playing in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers in Tucson, Arizona, this March,” said Loyzaga. “Second, we’re moving ahead with our Fun-At-Bat program for K-to-2 and 3-to-5 public school students. We’re collaborating with USA Baseball in this effort which is aligned with our U12 program. Third, we’re competing in the women’s baseball World Cup in Monterrey, Mexico, in September. Fourth, we’re participating in the East Asia Cup which we have the option to host, likely after the Olympics. Lastly, we’re launching our U12 and U18 programs.”
Before the men’s team captured the gold at the SEA Games, it nearly advanced to the Super Round in the Asian Championships in Taiwan last October. The team finished the preliminaries in a three-way tie for second and failed to make it to the Final Four because of the quotient system. The Philippines finished with a 4-1 record and in the process, brought down three countries ranked higher in the world standings. In the women’s side, the Philippines bagged the bronze at the Asian Cup in Guangdong, China, last November. The team would’ve taken the gold in the SEA Games but women’s baseball was scratched because only two countries signed up for it.
Loyzaga said Major League Baseball (MLB) is sending over Los Angeles Pierce College head coach William Picketts to supervise the national team’s formation for the World Baseball Classic qualifiers. Picketts, who played for the Oakland Athletics organization in 1990-93, arrives in Manila early today and will report for practice at the Rizal Memorial Stadium this morning. The Philippines is bracketed with the Czech Republic, UK, New Zealand, Panama and Spain in the qualifiers on March 18-25. The top two placers will move on to play in the fifth World Baseball Classic next year.
Loyzaga said a 28-man team will be formed with 14 pitchers for the qualifiers. Eligibility rules allow players holding passports and those born in the country they are representing. A possible recruit is former football quarterback Tim Tebow who was born here and played baseball for the Class AAA team Syracuse Mets last year. Tebow, 32, is involved in several charity activities in the Philippines.
“There are exciting developments in baseball,” said Loyzaga. “We’ve been advised that men’s baseball and women’s softball will be played in the next SEA Games in Vietnam. Our Fun-At-Bat program will be managed by Roy Landicho who works closely with Leslie Suntay. For our pilot, we’ll tap a city to create a template for others to follow. It may be Muntinlupa or a city in Laguna or Batangas. We plan to do one city a month. We’ll coordinate with the city mayor and the Department of Education to select five public schools for the Fun-At-Bat program. We’ll provide equipment from USA Baseball. The first step is to train the trainors for the K-to-2 and 3-to-5 students. It will be a basic curriculum on how to catch, bat, throw and run. This will be the breeding grounds for the Palaro and the Pony and Little Leagues. We’re hoping the LGUs support it. The budget for this project is about P3 million a year. Maybe, PSC could shoulder half the budget and the other half, split among USA Baseball, PABA and LGUs. It’s a five-year plan and at the start, we could even just use a basketball court as our playing field.”