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The highly anticipated clash between the RP Blu Boys and defending champion Japan is expected to heat up the action at the 8th Asian Men's Softball Championship slated from November 2-5, 2006 in Kita-Kyushu, Japan.

The RP delegation was selected by the Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines (ASAPHIL) headed by newly elected president Jean Henri Lhuillier. The team is composed mostly of national players who won a gold at the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) held in the country last year.

"This is another great opportunity for our players to carry our flag in an international event wherein we will be able to play against Asia's best," said ASAPHIL president Jean Henri Lhuillier. "The new ASAPHIL board intends to facilitate as much international exposure as possible for the national team as well as come up with programs that will develop our promising local talents."

Aside from Japan and the Philippines, other participating countries are Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Thailand. But all eyes will be on the two teams, Philippines and erstwhile rival, Japan, as the latter guns for a third consecutive championship trophy.

Last held in 2003 at the Rizal Stadium here in Manila, the Asian Men's Softball Championship is considered Asia's most prestigious tournament in men's softball. This biennial event was won by the Philippines three times, the last being in 1990. The tournament also serves as a qualifier for the next International Softball Federation's (ISF) Men's World Championship.

The Philippines joined Japan and Chinese-Taipei in the World Championship in New Zealand in 2004 following a second place finish at the 2003 Asian Championship.

Heading this year's line-up of players is 2003 tournament MVP Mark Rae Ramirez together with Apol Rosales, Fidel Moncera, Orlando Binarao, Manuel Binarao, Rogelio Rojas Jr., Florante Acuña, Ulysses Mejia, Ronelon Pagkaliwagan, Jasper Cabrera, Oscar Bradshaw IV, Romeo Bumagat, Melvin Villegas, Ben Maravilles, Dario Bacarisas, Isidro Abello and Rizel Santos. Head coach is Alejandro Estipular assisted by Isaac Bacarisas and Joel Binarao.

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