The Philippine Blu Boys booked a slot to the 17th Men’s Softball World Cup despite settling for runner-up honors of the 11th Men Softball Asian Cup in Kochi, Japan late Monday.
Despite a rocky start, the Blu Boys pulled off an 8-1 win over India in the final day of the super round to advance to the final and clinch one of the two slots for Asia in the World Cup that will be held in Auckland from 26 November to 4 December.
The Philippines, however, bowed to the host country, 2-9, after yielding five runs in the first inning.
The Blu Boys could only score two runs in the second inning while the Japanese kept piling on points — two in the third and one each in the fourth and sixth innings.
Still, it was a successful campaign for the newly-assembled Blu Boys as they safely made it to the World Cup after taking the second spot in Group B despite losses to Japan and Singapore in the super round.
Blu Boys head coach Apol Rosales said their qualification to the World Cup was such a sweet surprise since they grabbed it via the virtue of Singapore’s loss to India in the super round that gave them an automatic final berth.
He, however, did not inform the team right away that led to their emphatic 8-1 demolition of the Indians.
“We lost to Japan, 0-7, in our first game in the super round so we thought that it would be impossible for us to make it to the final,” Rosales said.
“Aside from that, it’s also impossible to lose to India until a coach told me that the Indians have won, practically making our battle a no-bearing contest.”
The national men’s softball team has qualified for the World Cup in nine out of the tournament’s last 11 editions since 1988. Its best finish was fourth in 1968.
Rosales said he motivated his boys to give their best against the Indians.
“Even if we got to qualify, I told the boys instead that we needed to win over India for a chance in the final. It felt like they transformed when they were given a chance to get to the World Cup,” Rosales added.
“I enjoyed the game also since the rookies are playing like they know this already.”
Rosales said they may have lost their final match to the Japanese, but it boosted their morale and gave them the experience they need for crucial tourneys ahead, including the Southeast Asian Games.
After all, the Filipinos used to rule the biennial meet, but they were toppled by Singapore in 2019.
“I told the players that we can’t give up, even if we’re facing the No. 2 country in the world,” he said.
“It was a big opportunity for us to play against them and this is the exposure we needed so badly.”