MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Habagat baseball team will defend territorial lands, as this year’s PONY International Asia Pacific Zone Division Championship is set to take place on July 13 to July 18 at the Ayala Alabang Golf and Country Club, in Muntinlupa City.
The championship team from the tournament will represent the Asia Pacific region for the PONY League World Series, which is scheduled on August 4 to 7 in Washington, Pennsylvania, in America.
Philippine Habagat, which started as a sports program aiming to teach Filipino youth to play baseball, is now the driving force behind the country’s campaign to regain its powerhouse status.
Rodolfo Tingzon, the president of the Philippine Tot Baseball Foundation (PTBF) and PONY Philippines, believes that hosting the event is a great opportunity to promote baseball among young Filipinos while showcasing the archipelago’s capability of housing international events.
“As you very well know, events such as these shall be a great opportunity to promote baseball to the youth of our country. Likewise, it will also be a chance for us to show these foreign teams that our country is an ideal sports tourism destination and are very capable of hosting International caliber events,” Tingzon stated.
Philippine Habagat Baseball Inc (PHBCI) president Mike Ochosa, who started the team in 2011, spearheads Habagat’s quest to baseball supremacy together with head coach Ronnie Lugay and assistant coach Ruel Batuto.
“2011 nag-umpisa ito. Ako’y napag-atasan, one time, by an international organization to start a baseball team. Naisip ko, gawin ko ng tama, hindi yung pupunta ka lang, makapaglaro ka lang,” Ochosa said.
(It began in 2011. I was tasked by an international organization to start a baseball team. So I thought that I need to do it right, not just for the sake of just playing.)
Three decades ago, the Philippines was among the world’s elite, ranking 5th in the International Baseball Federation. The sport's development had slowed, and today the country ranks 28th.
With home field advantage on their side, the Philippine team has a good chance of winning the qualifiers and representing the Asia Pacific Region in the PONY World Series, as they move closer a bright future for Philippine baseball.
The hosting Philippines Team A, together with Indonesia and Japan will be competing in Group A, while Korea, Taipei, and Philippines Team B, will play in Group B of the tournament.
The opening game will feature Indonesia against the hosts Philippines Team A at 8 a.m., followed a Korea-Taipei showdown at 11 a.m. Japan vs Philippines Team B will close the first game-day at 1 p.m. – Rappler.com