WORLD champion Manila will still have to earn the right to represent the Philippines in the Asia Pacific qualifiers as the Little League Philippine Series set to start Monday in Tanauan City.
The annual local softball and baseball tournament will be held until April 9 where Manila begins its attempt to return to the Big League Softball World Series tournament where it is the defending champion.
The Manila big leaguers captured the crown when they beat California, 14-2, clinching the country's first world title since the Bacolod junior league softball team won in 2003.
Little League Philippines district administrator Jolly Gomez said Manila, co-winner of the Athlete of the Year award handed out by the Philippine Sportswriters Association, is not seeded and still needs to battle several other Philippine squads in the big league softball division to make it back to the world stage.
“Lalaban pa rin sila,” said Gomez, one of the commissioners of the Philippine Sports Commission.
The champion team in all eight categories will represent the Philippines in the AsPac qualifiers.
Gomez bared that a record field of 117 teams will be joining the competitions in the little (11-13), junior (13-14), senior (14-16), and big league (16-18) divisions in both baseball and softball.
“Sa little league alone, there are 45 teams that will be participating,” Gomez said.