MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine women’s softball team, known as the Blu Girls, will need all the exposure they could get as they prepare for the 2023 World Cup scheduled July 22 to 26 in Italy.
The Blu Girls advanced to the World Cup for the first time since 2018 following a fourth-place finish in the recent Women’s Softball Asia Cup in Incheon, South Korea where they had a 5-3 record.
Somehow, it was mission accomplished for the Blu Girls, who are ranked No. 4 in Asia. But in Italy, they will be bracketed with tougher teams like Japan, Canada, Venezuela, New Zealand, and Italy.
“That’s why we need more foreign exposure. Alam naman ng coaches natin na ‘yun ang kulang,” said team captain and starting pitcher Ann Antolihao in Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex. (Our coaches knew that is what we needed.)
“We’re happy na nakabalik tayo sa World Cup,” added Antolihao during the forum presented by San Miguel Corporation, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, MILO, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). (We’re happy that we made it back to the World Cup.)
Joining Antolihao were pitcher CJ Roa and catcher Celine Ojare, who reiterated the need for foreign exposure heading to the World Cup, where the top two teams will earn seedings to the 2024 edition.
The Blu Girls made it to the World Cup with an all-homegrown lineup, and under the guidance of coaches Ray Pagkaliwagan, Randy Dizer and Anthony Santos, and the support of ASAPHIL president Jean Henri Lhuillier.
“I’m so proud of the whole team for giving their best since day 1 of training and I’m glad their hard work was rewarded with a well-deserved world cup slot. We at ASAPHIL will ensure they will be well-prepared and battle-ready come World Cup,” said ASAPHIL President Jean Henri Lhuillier.
If given a choice, Roa said they would prefer a foreign training camp in Japan, where they can have a field day playing tune up matches with top teams.
“High-level training talaga sa Japan kahit sa tune-up games with university schools. Kaya kung bibigyan kami ng chance, sana sa Japan,” said the pitcher from University of Santo Tomas. (Japan provides high-level training. Even if it’s just playing tune-ups with university teams. If we were given the chance, we want in Japan)
The Blue Girls also have players from Cebu, Bacolod, Bukidnon, Batanes, and Makati.
“Skills wise meron naman po tayo dito. Pero kulang tayo sa exposure,” added Roa. (We have skills but what we lack in terms of exposure.)
The Blu Girls played eight games in Incheon, beating Hong Kong (7-0), South Korea (2-0), Singapore (8-1), Thailand (10-0) and India (10-0) and bowing to Japan (9-1), China (6-2) and Chinese-Taipei (5-0).
Antolihao said there is no final line-up for the World Cup yet, adding that it will be up to the decision of the coaches who will make the rooster to Italy. The decision may come when the team resumes training on April 24. (Press Release)
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