MANILA – The distinguished Philippine Blu Girls are leaving no stone unturned, making sure they will make the country proud in the Softball World Cup to be held in Italy on July 22-27.
“It’s going to be tough. We’re not going to win the World Cup but I think the team will do good and make the country proud,” catcher Cheska Altamonte said without mincing words.
The Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines (AsaPhil) secretary general graced Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum, and was joined by first-base Elsie dela Torre.
“Prepared naman kami at puspusan ang ensayo (We are prepared and have been training hard),” dela Torre said ahead of the team’s departure for Italy on July 16.
It will be the Blu Girls’ seventh stint in the World Cup since 1970 when the country registered its best finish of third in Osaka, Japan.
The forthcoming stint would not be easy, as Altamonte said during the forum presented by San Miguel Corp., Philippine Sports Commission, MILO, Philippine Olympic Committee, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR).
In the 18-team World Cup, where the United States is the defending champion, the Blu Girls are bracketed with three-time champion Japan, Canada, Venezuela, New Zealand, and host Italy. Their first game will be against the Canadians on July 22.
“There are six teams in this World Cup that made it to the Tokyo Olympics and three of them are in our bracket (Japan, Canada, and Italy),” Altamonte said. “We’ve won against Japan and we’ve never played Italy. New Zealand, we’ve won against them. And Venezuela is the most frustrating for us because laging panalo dapat (we want to always win). Canada we’ve won against (them) in 2017.”
“That’s why it has to be a perfect game,” Altamonte said, adding that she would not be playing all matches to give the other catchers in the Blu Girls lineup the chance to compete against the best.
“Now, the majority of our players are homegrown because that’s part of the program aimed at elevating the level of play here. We have a lot of new players. But you can see them growing and getting better.”
The Blu Girls will try to make the most of their World Cup stint as they prepare for the Asian Games in Hangzhou in September, and hope for a podium finish.
“Kaya talaga (We can do it). A podium finish is very realistic. I believe we can do it,” she said of the Blu Girls, whose best finish in the Asian Games was fourth in 2014 in Incheon and 2018 in Jakarta. (PNA)