DIEGO Lozano's dreams never change even in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
His season did not end the way he wanted it to, but that's not gonna stop him from aspiring to help bring baseball in the Philippines to a higher level.
The senior La Salle first baseman shared to The Prospects Pod of his frustrations, noting that the talent is there, but the sport's development is hindered by the usual problems lesser-known sports face in the country.
"Baseball in the Philippines is not as big as the other countries like Japan, and it’s super sayang because I see a lot of kids who have so much potential to make it abroad. But given the lack of facilities and equipment, they are hindered by it," the 22-year-old batter said.
Lozano, the UAAP Season 81 Finals MVP, even shared that coaches overseas acknowledge the prowess of the Filipinos when it comes to the diamond.
"Even when we went to Japan, the coaches were surprised to see that there’s this talent in the Philippines. They're encouraging to bring their baseball programs here in the Philippines because of course, everybody wants to help each other out," he said.
Filipinos showed just that in the 30th Southeast Asian Games as the Philippines dominated the baseball tournament to win the gold medal.
Lozano was part of that Blu Boys crew that was bannered by Kiko Gesmundo and Orlando Binarao, and was coached by Apol Rosales.
He believes giving the top athletes a venue to compete after their collegiate careers will help produce players who can see action in overseas leagues.
"Unlike other sports where they are fortunate enough to have a professional league here, in baseball, the highest level you can reach is probably playing for the national team," Lozano said.
"So if you wanna take it to the next level, you have to go abroad and like the top two countries to go to would be Japan or United States. If I’m not mistaken, there’s no full Filipino yet in the MLB. So for that to happen in the near future would be really life changing."
It's definitely not for a lack of trying.
The sport's federation Philippine Amateur Baseball Association (PABA) opened the Philippine Baseball League (PBL) last year, which was a successor to the defunct Baseball Philippines that lasted for five years until it folded in 2012.
PBL held two conferences and saw Adamson and Philippine Air Force emerge as champions.
"With what’s going around, it’s really hard to plan on what you want for sports because you don’t know when everything is gonna clear up," lamented Lozano.
Lozano, a student-athlete on his fifth year for the Green Batters, is still undecided on what to do with his career.
"I still obviously want to play baseball, but I also have to weigh my options and you have to weigh your expectations," he said.
"You can’t just keep on waiting and next thing you know, you’re wasting two or three years of your life and in those two to three years, you could make a difference already. My priority now is of course working since I’m a graduate and when comes the opportunity to play baseball abroad, then I’ll think about it."
La Salle was chasing back-to-back crowns this year, which would have been a fitting swansong for Lozano before handing the reins to Iggy Escano.
He can still comeback next year if the UAAP Board does allow "super seniors" to come back for one more year, but Lozano admits that he finds himself on a tough position.
"It’s really hard decision, but I won’t mind doing it also," he said. "But the thing is since I’m graduating, I have to take master’s (degree) and if I am gonna take master’s, it wouldn’t be in La Salle. I wanted it to be somewhere for a different experience."