THE PHILIPPINE Blu Boys gear up for some tuneup matches before the start of the International Softball Federation Men’s World Softball Championships next week in New Zealand.
The Filipinos arrived a week before the start of the tournament set March 1 to 10.
The Blu Boys are grouped with host New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, and Netherlands in Pool B of the 16-team tournament.
Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines operations manager Jun Veloso said they left for Auckland early so that they can play a few teams from the other pool for their final preparations.
The Blu Boys will play Colombia in the opener.
“We will have more games kasi maaga kami,” said Veloso before leaving for New Zealand to the world tilt.
The teams in Pool A are the United States, Australia, Venezuela, Great Britain, Czech Republic, South Africa, Indonesia, and Samoa.
The Blu Boys are out to improve on their 10th place finish in Canada four years ago where they missed the quarterfinals after losing to Denmark in the final match of the elimination.
The top four teams in each group will advance into the crossover quarterfinals.
“Modest goal is to make it to the top four. Maganda ’yung schedule ng games namin dahil we will play New Zealand last. Maganda ang chances natin compared to 2009,” Veloso said.
Two new players – Jake Ilao and Christian De Leon – have been added to beef up the second-placers in the 2012 Asian championships.
Also in the team are pitchers Florante Acuna, Leo Barredo, George Ramirez, and Marlon Pagkaliwagan; infielders Jerome Bacarisas, Dario Bacarisas, Oscar Bradshaw, Michael Pagkaliwagan, and Romy Bumagat; and outfielders Edmer Del Socorro, Isidro Abello, Jasper Cabrera, Christian De Leon, and Anthony Santos.