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Blu Girls seek redemption in Asian Games in Hangzhou

Blu Girls
The Blu Girls in huddle.

WITH THE 2021 Southeast Asian Games already out of the calendar, the Philippine women’s softball team is setting its sights at next year’s Asian Games in Hangzhou, China on Sept. 10-25.

The team, more popularly known as the Blu Girls, is seeking redemption.

Right now, yun talagang Asian Games ang pinaghahandaan namin ng husto,” said Philippine women’s softball team coach Ana Santiago during the “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom last Thursday.

We missed a podium finish in the last Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018. We finished fourth behind Japan, Chinese-Taipei and China. Gusto talaga naming makabawi,” added Santiago during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).

Yun po talaga ang focus namin ngayon at tuloy-tuloy ang training thru online since last year nung nagsimula na ang pandemic up to now,” added Santiago, also the head coach of UAAP champion Adamson University.

Santiago said Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines (ASAPHIL) president Jean Henri Lhuillier informed the team about the plan to hold a bubble training once the situation allows

We’re waiting for the go-signal of the PSC or the IATF kung papayagan na kaming makapag-bubble training. Medyo mabigat din talaga ang labanan sa Asian Games kaya kailangang mahaba-haba preparations. Sa ngayon, we’re concentrating on keeping the players in good condition thru zoom workouts.

Santiago said Lhuillier and ASAPHIL secretary-general Cheska Altomonte are planning to hold their bubble training in Batangas.

Sa Calatagan, Batangas, may magandang lugar si Mr. Lhuillier. May sariling softball field at dormitory. I think yun ang ni-recommend nila sa PSC.

Santiago also said ASAPHIL is looking at two major international competitions before the Asian Games.

We really need international exposure before the Asian Games. Usually, sumasali kami sa World Cup of Softball in Oklahoma City, USA at sa Canada Cup. Pinadadala ni Mr. Lhuillier ang national team,” explained Santiago.

Alam natin ngayon na medyo maluwag na sa US. May mga nagsisimula nang tournament gaya ng NBA at NCAA. Kaya kung may vaccine na, pwede na kaming makasali.

“I remember nagka-silver medal tayo sa Asian Championship after 42 years. That was because tuloy-tuloy yung program ng ASAPHIL, pati na yun mga international exposure ng team.

Malaking bagay yun nakasasali ka sa mga international tournaments, gaya ng World Cup of Softball na puro mga Olympic-qualified- teams ang kasali.

Santiago lamented the decision of host Vietnam to remove women’s softball in the list of sports in the coming SEA Games this November, effectively stripping the Filipinos of a sure gold medal.

The Santiago-mentored Blu Girls swept all their four matches against Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand to capture the gold medal in the 2019 SEA Games in Manila.

Actually, tumaas pa nga ang ranking natin sa world. Ngayon ay No.11 na tayo. Maganda talaga ang showing ng women’s softball bago nagkaroon ng pandemic. Kaya masasabi ko na talagang malaki ang tsansa natin sa Asian Games.

Santiago claimed she is keeping the team intact for the Asian Games.

Sa ngayon, same line-up pa din tayo for the Asian Games. Walang nabago. Ang adjustments na ginagawa lang namin bukod sa body training and conditioning ay yung mag-focus sa mental health ng mga player,” explained Santiago.

Syempre sa mga nangyayari ngayon na may pandemic, kailangan makapag-adapt ang mga players at malagpasan yun mga problema. Halos lahat ng mga players namin ay nasa probinsya for almost a year na. Wala dito sa Metro Manila. Kaya kailangan tutukan yun health nila, pati na sa mga online drills at individual training.

Santiago and ASAPHIL thanked the PSC for its continued support to women’s softball.

Very supportive talaga ang PSC at Chairman Butch Ramirez hindi lang sa softball kundi pati sa ibang sports kahit pa ngayon na may pandemic at limited ang kanilang budget,” remarked Santiago.

Sinu-suportahan nila lalong-lalo na ang mga players natin para magpatuloy pa rin sa training kahit ngayon na online kami. Yun mga players na nasa probinsya, tuloy-tuloy pa din ang kanilang mga allowances.

Publication Source :    People's Tonight
Ed Andaya
Sports Editor - People's Tonight