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PH national team bats in world baseball classic in Sydney

BY JAIME K PIMENTEL – WHEN the 2016 World Baseball Classic Qualifier plays out at Blacktown Sportspark on February 11-14, the Philippines’ national baseball team will make arguably its most spectacular international appearance of its existence.

National teams from Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and South Africa will compete in the six-game, four-day Qualifier with the winner qualifying for the 2017 World Baseball Classic scheduled in March 2017.

This was announced recently by NSW Minister for Sport, Mr Stuart Ayres.

Following the success of the 2014 Major League Baseball Opening Series at the Sydney Cricket Ground, metropolitan Sydney was chosen to host another major international baseball event, Mr Ayres said.

Developed and operated in partnership by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, and sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation as the sport’s official ‘World Championship’, the World Baseball Classic (WBC) is the world’s premier international baseball tournament featuring some of the best players on the planet representing their respective nations for the title of World Champion.

The event will mark the first time a World Baseball Classic event has been held in Australia and only the second time Team Australia has played on home soil since defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks and losing a close game to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exhibition games at the 2014 Opening Series.

Team Australia is currently ranked 14 out of the 124 baseball playing nations recognised by the International Baseball Federation.

“Baseball Australia, in conjunction with our partners Baseball NSW and the Australian Baseball League are extremely honoured and excited to be staging this prestigious event,” said Baseball Australia CEO, Brett Pickett.  “We are grateful to World Baseball Classic Inc for providing us the opportunity and to Destinations NSW for their support, and we look forward to putting on a world class event for all participants and fans.”

Initial opening-round matchups, including home and visitor designations as well as ticket information, will be announced at a later date by individual host venues.The pools for each qualifier are:

* Qualifier 1 (Feb. 11-14 in Sydney): Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa.

*Qualifier 2 (March 17-20 in Mexicali): Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany and Nicaragua.

* Qualifier 3 (March 17-20 in Panama City): Colombia, France, Panama and Spain.

* Qualifier 4 (Sept. 22-25 in Brooklyn): Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan.