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The RP Blu Boys, together with newly-inducted Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines (ASAPHIL) president, Jean Henri Lhuillier, flew over the weekend to Kita-Kyushu, Japan to acclimatize themselves to the cold weather in preparation for the expected tough competition at the 8th Asian Men's Softball Championship slated from November 2 to 5.

Head coach Alex Estipular, himself a veteran of the tournament, adopted a more focused training strategy for the team. Though their target is to unseat Japan, Estipular said they would have to first eliminate the three other teams under their bracket.

"But of course our ultimate goal, together with ASAPHIL, is to reclaim the glory of the sport not just here in the country but in Asia. We want to bring back the time when the RP Blu Boys and Girls ruled the sport in the region," Estipular said.

For the preliminary round, the RP Blu Boys will face teams in Group B consisting of Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore. Japan, on the other hand, will have to battle it out with teams in Group A - Indonesia, Thailand and Brunei. The Blu Boys' first game will be against Malaysia on November 2 at the Kita-Kyushu Civic Field.

Encouraged by the full support of ASAPHIL president Jean Henri Lhuillier to the team, Estipular has only high hopes for the team.

"We placed second the last time the tournament was held here in the country in 2003. But we want to be first now," he said.

The Blu Boys trained for four months prior to their departure and are confident that this time, they will no longer play second to host country, Japan.

"Palaban na ang team, buo ang confidence. Sa training palang na ginawa naming four times a week, six hours a day, sa mga bagong equipment na naibigay sa team sa pamamagitan ni Mr. Lhuillier tulad ng pitching machine, mga bola at bats, malaki ang tsansa natin na makuha ang championship ngayon," said RP Blu Boys team member Anthony Santos.

Mark Rae Ramirez, a second timer in the competition and 2003's MVP awardee, echoed the same view.

"Malaki ang changes sa training. Although masasabi natin angat ang Japan sa experience dahil sa palagi silang nasasabak sa mga international tournaments, hindi rin naman tayo pahuhuli dahil exposed din naman kami sa mga tournaments abroad," he said. "Isa pa, karamihan sa amin ay nakapaglaro na dito sa Asian Championship."

Ramirez will once again display the same kind of intense play he showed three years ago, this time alongside fellow pitchers Rogelio Rojas Jr. and Florante Acuña and new additions to the team Uly Mejia and Ronelon Pagkaliwagan.

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