DOHA QATAR:  JAPANESE  ROUT  BATTERS;  RP  FLAG  UNFURLS  TODAY

DOHA, QATAR,
NOVEMBER 30, 2006
(STAR)   Powerhouse Japan announced its presence with a merciless rout of the Philippines, 17-2, in the opening game of the Asian Games baseball competitions yesterday, even as the main bulk of the Philippine delegation arrived two days before the opening ceremonies here.

Japan, the 2002 Busan Asian Games gold medalist, battered starting pitcher Charlie Labrador with five hits for eight runs in the first inning.

The color of the game never changed even as Roy Baclay came in to relieve Labrador in the third inning and limited the Japanese, acknowledged as Asian’s baseball superpower, to one run. The Philippines’ third pitcher, Darwin dela Calzada, could do nothing to stem the tide as the Japanese, gold medalists in Busan four years ago, exploded with two hits and three runs for a 17-0 lead at the top of the fourth inning.

The defeat was a sour note for the RP clouters who had campaigned earnestly to gain the trip to the Asian Games despite bleak prospects against a formidable seven-team field.

The Philippine flag will formally be hoisted Thursday in the Asiad athletes village amphitheater with Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose Cojuangco Jr., and chief of mission William Ramirez leading the ceremonies. A first Friday mass is also set at the Christian hall of the Village.

The teams that took the nine-hour, non-stop trip from Manila Tuesday were from boxing, swimming, beach volleyball, chess, gymnastics, judo, sepak takraw, shooting, soft tennis and weightlifting.

SEA Games swimming champion Miguel Molina was to plane from the United States. Also expected to arrive are some members of the fancied bowling team, and equestrienne Antonette Leviste.

On the eve of the Games, the billiards squad, led by veteran Leonardo Andam and upcoming Jeffrey Luna, will hit town along with teams in bowling, cycling (road), shooting and tennis.

Athletes in taekwondo, athletics, badminton and triathlon are expected on Dec. 3, golf, wrestling, badminton, bodybuilding, archery, fencing and cycling (track) on Dec. 6 and aquatics (diving), canoe-kayak, squash and wushu on Dec. 7.

Karate will be the last team to arrive on Dec. 9.

Nearly half of the 13,000-strong athletes from 45 countries have checked in at the spanking Athletes Village, a vast expanse of 32 apartment buildings.

The village includes a 24-hour main dining hall that can sit up to 4,000 diners and a leisure and recreation center.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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