Andres Vasquez, a mainstay of Rutgers University, a Division I team in the US NCAA, will be reinforcing the Philippine baseball team that will see action in the East Asian elimination of the Asia Cup set September 18-23 in Bangkok.
Philippine Amateur Baseball Association president Hector Navasero yesterday said the 19-year-old lefty will arrive in Manila early next week to add power to the Filipinos’ pitching rotation in their bid to top the tournament and represent Southeast Asia in the Asia Cup -- a tournament they have won twice in 1995 and 1999.
“I talked to Vasquez’s father a few days ago over the phone and he assured me that Andres will be coming here in time for the team’s departure on September 17,” Navasero said during the SCOOP Sa Kamayan session, sponsored by Powerade, AKTV and FILA, at the Kamayan Restaurant-Padre Faura.
The Paba head said Vasquez is actually one of several Fil-Americans his son Thomas “Binkee” Navasero, Paba’s international representative, is eyeing to play for the national team.
“Binkee is currently in the US to talk with several players there in the hope of convincing them to play for flag and country, including the San Francisco Giants sensation Tim Lincecum and Geno Espeneli, himself a former Giant,” Navasero said.
“Getting Fil-Ams to reinforce our national teams is part of Paba’s program of improving our standing in Asia and in the world,” Navasero explained, adding that the Philippines is presently ranked fifth in Asia and 24th in the world.
Navasero bared that the Philippines had been ranked as high as 18th in the world, but its failure to play in the 2010 Asian Games for lack of funds saw the country skid to 24th.
Assistant coach Roel Empacis said the Filipinos are seeded No. 1 in the tournament after bringing home the gold medal in last year’s Southeast Asian Games via a sweep of all their games.
“Malakas itong team na ito kesa dati. Kompleto and besides our veteran campaigners, we injected the team with young players from the UAAP," Empacis said. “Siguro we can maintain our unbeaten record intact in the Southeast Asian level.”
Veteran internationalists Ruben Angeles, Ernesto Binarao, Francis Candela, Darwin dela Calzada, Charlie Labrador, Marvin Malig, Joseph Orillana, Jennifer Pinero, Jonash Ponce, Jon Jon Robles and Rommel Roja have kept their places in the team, according to Empacis.
Playing for the first time in international competition are Christian Canlas, Vladimir Eguia, Romeo Jasmin Jr., Sazon Omandac, Fulgencio Rances Jr., Michael Justin Zialcita and Jennald Pareja.