THE chase for berths to the World Series begins for Philippine teams and their regional rivals as the 2013 Asia/Pacific-Middle East Tournament unwraps Monday at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.
A formal opening is set at 7:30 a.m. and then the teams in the different Little League baseball and softball divisions are off to the seven fields set up at the Parade Grounds of the former US airbase to kickstart their respective World Series bids.
Filipino batters and softbelles immediately plunge into action in a heavy opening-day slate beginning at 9 a.m.
The Philippines' Little League Baseball representatives, Tanauan City, opens its campaign against Indonesia in Field 4 while the home bets in softball majors, Iloilo City, take on the Indons over in Field 5.
Phl Junior League Baseball champ Tanauan gets a tough first-day test against Chinese-Taipei in Field 3; and Phl 50/70 titlist NCR battles Saipan in Field 6.
Phl Senior League Baseball kingpin ILLAM faces Thailand at 12 noon in Field 1, to be followed by the debut of Pinoy Big League Baseball holders Muntinlupa against Guam at 3 p.m. in the same field.
The host's Big League Softball bet, Manila South, takes the first step towards its title-retention bid in the World Series on Tuesday yet, against Guam.
"Everything is set. All the teams are here and everything's okay. The Taiwanese team arrived safe and sound and they're very happy," said Little League Philippines district administrator Jolly Gomez, also a commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission.
"We were earlier concerned about the weather but thankfully, it has improved," he added.
The AsPac-ME tournament is sponsored by Clark Development Corp., the Philippine Sports Commission and KFC.