Chinese-Taipei will be a marked team when the 2017 Asia Pacific-Middle East Regional Tournament opens today at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
Chinese-Taipei is represented by Shing-Ming Junior High School, which won the Junior League World Series in the last four years. The four-time champions will be playing its first game today at 4pm against the Philippines and will also duel the host CNMI All-Stars and Hong Kong in its bid to advance to the World Series for the sixth straight time.
“The boys are ready. They dominated their league back home and were undefeated,” said Chinese-Taipei Baseball Association’s Sam Cheng, who also serves as the squad’s interpreter.
The Wei Chin Huang-managed team from Taoyuan arrived on Saipan early Thursday morning and had their training session yesterday afternoon at the “Tan Ko” field.
“They are trying to get the feel of the field and the weather so they will be able to adjust quickly,” said Cheng, adding that they are looking at the CNMI as their toughest competitor because of its hometown edge.
“The boys are used to playing in a big crowd. However, here, majority of the spectators will definitely cheer for the home team so there will be some pressure playing in front of your people. The boys will just play their usual game and will not underestimate any team, so hopefully they will get the win they need to make it to the finals,” Cheng said.
Meanwhile, Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and the CNMI in the Junior League and the Senior League’s Guam, the Philippines, and the host squad will participate in today’s opening ceremonies that will begin at 9am and will be attended by government officials and members and officers of the sports community.
After the opening, the CNMI will kick off the action in the World Series qualifier as it takes on Guam in the Senior League game at 10am. In the second match at 1pm, the CNMI will also play and will challenge Hong Kong in the Junior League. For the Saturday schedule, the first tiff in the Junior League will be Hong Kong versus the Philippines at 9am, while the Guam-Philippines game in the Senior League is set for 12pm. In the last game tomorrow at 3pm, the CNMI will take on the tournament favorite Chinese-Taipei.
The Senior and Junior league divisions will both use a double-round robin format in the preliminary with the Top 2 teams advancing to the finals that will be played on Thursday, June 29. The Junior League title game is scheduled at 10am, while the Senior League finals is set for 1pm.