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A well-prepared and balanced Cebuana Lhuillier IX did the Philippines proud by emerging as the only undefeated team en route to winning the 12th Annual Bangkok International Softball League (BISL) crown last weekend.

Competing for the very first time in this tough international tournament, Cebuana Lhuillier, composed of an All-Filipino line-up, including former and current national softball and baseball players in the country currently playing in the Manila Slo-pitch Softball League (MSSL), won all 6 games it played in the 20 team field.

The team debuted with an impressive 11-4 victory over the Gaz-Hauz Gang behind the two homeruns of veterans internationalists Apol Rosales and an RBI apiece by playing team manager Jean Henri Lhuillier, who had a .600 batting average for the entire tournament and team captain Lan Perez.

This was followed by a 7-2 win over a tough Korean team, Korea Heat 3N2, which just a month earlier had won another club tournament also in Bangkok, it was the superb pitching job by Rayner Sangil that did the job as he controlled the Korean batters at the mound.

Third team to fall victim to the Cebuana Lhuillier Sluggers was local team Larry's Dive as again Rosales and Manuel Binarao shone on the offensive end with back to back homeruns.

In their quarter finals match against an erstwhile unbeaten Taiwan's Tainan team Cebuana Lhuillier, behind the efforts of Player of the Game Julius Visaya and starting pitcher Alex Estipular, fashioned a come from behind 13-12 victory with the team advancing to the semifinals game against the defending champion Korea Guzzlers.

Korea dictated the tempo early in the first inning, scoring 6 runs but Cebuana Lhuillier tightened its defense and shut them out while going on a scoring rampage that saw the local team going ahead 13-6 with an inning left.

However the Koreans came back in that final inning and even had the opportunity to tie the score if not for the catcher Romy Bumagat who receieved a perfect throw from the shortstop Jasper Cabrera, and tagged out a Korean runner, to end the game at 13-12 in favor of the Filipinos, and with it, advanced to the finals.

The championship game, a rematch between the Filipinos and the Koreans, turned out to be more a defensive game and Cebuana Lhuiller, which was acknowledged by all the teams as the best defensive team in the tournament, pulled off a tough 6-2 victory over the Guzzlers to win the championship in their first try.

Alex Estipular was adjudged Most Valuable Player of the Championship Game while Manuel Binarao received a Golden Glove Award for being the tournament's Outstanding Defensive Player, Rosales, Cabrera, Ernesto and Lando Binarao alo shone in that final game.

Earlier this year, Cebuana Lhuillier also won for the first time the Super Division title of the PANGEA Cup in Manila and the trip to Bangkok was an incentive by Lhuiller for his team that has been playing in the MSSL for the last 9 years.

"It was a sweet victory for us with everyone in the team contributing and playing his role, now we have shown that our winning the PANGEA Cup last March was not a fluke at all, we earned that just as we did this Bangkok championship"
, said Lhuillier of his team's victory.

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Copyright © 2005 PJ LHUILLIER, INC. All rights reserved.