ASIAN GAMES: Blu Girls begin medal quest

ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 18, 2018 06:04 PM
ASIAN GAMES: Blu Girls begin medal quest
The Philippine Blu Girls eyes a podium finish after placing fourth four years ago.

Game Sunday:

(Gelora Bung Karno softball field)

9:00 p.m. -- Philippines vs. Hong Kong (Manila time)


JAKARTA -- Nothing else than a podium finish will do for the Philippine Blu Girls, who swing into action in the 18th Asian Games softball tournament at the Gelora Bung Karno softball field on Sunday.

“We don’t watch to match our fourth-place finish (in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games) the last time. We are aiming for a podium finish,” Blu Girls coach Randy Dizer said.

The Blu Girls open their campaign in the one-round, seven-team eliminations against Hong Kong at Gelora Bung Karno softball field at 8:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m. in Manila).

A former national softball standout, Dizer’s confidence in the Blu Girls rests on their runner-up finish in last year’s Asian women’s softball championships held in Taiwan behind champion Japan.

Except for Japan, the Filipina sluggers previously beat all of the same opponents they are facing here,  including a 17-0 rout of their Hong Kong rivals, before absorbing a 0-7 beating at the hands of the powerhouse Japanese in the finals.

“We have been together for some time so we have a chance of winning medal in this Asian Games,” said skipper-catcher Chesca Altamonte. “Yes I think we have a chance of a podium finish.”

Veteran Fil-Am short stop Garrie Blando, who has been with the squad since 2014, echoed Altamonte’s sentiments.

“I believe we’ve been together for a longer time now so we have a better team since our last Asian Games. We are really hoping to win a medal here,” Almonte said.

Dizer said that one of their advantages was their deep bullpen, led by Fil-Am Sierra Lange, a top rookie playing for the US NCAA Division 1 School George Washington University, with Reese Myquelle Guevarra, Mia Macapagal and Kaith Jezra Jalandoni backing her up.

“Medyo malalim ang bullpen natin. It is the hitting that we have to improve on,” noted Dizer after the Blu Girls’ one and only overseas in the recent world championships in Chiba, Japan where they wound up with a 2-4 win-loss record.

The coach said that the absence of Fil-Am sluggers Dani Gilmore and Kailee Cuico left a huge hole in their offense “but I am hoping our other players like Hailey Decker can step up for us."

After Sunday’s match, the Blu Girls will have a double header on Monday, tackling South Korea at 3:00 p.m. (4:00 p.m.) then China at 8:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m.) five hours later.

They face reigning Asian Games softball champion Japan on Tuesday before wrapping up their elimination-round campaign against Chinese-Taipei on Wednesday.

“We promised our boss Jean Henri that we will have a podium finish and we will have a podium finish,” Dizer vowed.

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