Blu Boys leave early for NZ World tourney
MANILA, Philippines - Targetting a quarterfinals slot in the International Softball Federation (ISF) World Men's Softball Championships, the Blu Boys are leaving this week-end for Auckland, New Zealand for a two-week acclimatization for the tournament set March 1-10.
The Philippines, which qualified for the world championship after finishing second to Asain champion Japan last year, will join 16 other teams in the hunt for pride and glory with defending champion Australia, Canada, host and five-time champions New Zealand and the US.
"We finished 10th in the 2009 ISF Men's World Championship and we have to be in the top 8 this year to be included in the playoffs," said ASAPHIL president Jean Henri Lhuillier.
"It will not be easy for us but we have been training even before the Asian Men's Softball Championship started and our boys will be flying to New Zealand earlier for two weeks of training and conditioning. ASAPHIL is making sure that the team is prepared physically and emotionally for the World Championship," he added.
ASAPHIL has tapped Australian softball coach Maurice Paraha to work with Blu Boys head coach Roberto Ituralde, himself a Blu Boy in the 70’s , to help prepare the team.
"You have a good team, the players are all skillful and in fact I can take some of them to play for my club team in Queensland. I think they have a good chance of making it to the quarterfinals," said Paraha, who added that what the team needs is regular exposure to international softball.
Paraha also conducted a free four-day seminar for local softball coaches recently at the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and shared his vast knowledge on all aspects of the game.
Lhuillier graced the closing part of the seminar which is part of Asaphil's developmental program for the sport.
Ituralde welcomed the presence of the Australian coach.
"He pointed out the shift in the international style of softball – with more emphasis on the short game rather than on a power game," said Ituralde. "In our case, we can shift to either style now depending on the team we play."