Asian Games: No medal, but Blu Girls are not blue

POOLED REPORT

 

INCHEON, South Korea—The Blu Girls may have missed the podium at the 17th Asian Games but their fourth-place performance earned them softball John Henry Lhuillier’s nod to continue the program.

That meant Lhuillier, president of the Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines, will keep the Asian Games team intact for the Asian Championship and Singapore SEA Games next year.

“Mr. John Henry told us that he will be keeping this team. He was satisfied with our performance, which he said was a major improvement,” Blu Girls assistant coach Ana Santiago said on Thursday.

The Blu Girls gallantly fought China in the page system semifinals on Wednesday and managed to keep their rivals at bay.

Unlike in the round-robin where the Filipinas almost wilted to a 2-8 drubbing, the Blu Girls held ground in the semifinals and limited their opponents to scoring a 0-3 victory.

“Of course the goal was to get a medal,” Santiago said. “But the team’s improvement showed when we got the Chinese to win by only three runs.”

Japan blanked Chinese-Taipei, 6-0, on Thursday to win the gold medal for the fourth consecutive time while dealing the Taiwanese their third bronze medal in the Games. China was relegated to the bronze medal after losing to Chinese Taipei, 3-4, in the second phase of the page system semifinals.

The assistant to head coach Randy Dizer credited the modest finish to the chemistry the team developed during its three-month training in the US.

Softball was included in the Asian Games program only in 1990 in Beijing with China winning the gold medal for three consecutive editions until Japan started its dynasty in 2002 in Busan.

Until these Incheon Games, the best the Blu Girls accomplished was fifth place in Guangzo 2010. A Philippine team was sixth both in 1998 (Bangkok) and 2002 Busan.

The Blu Girls did not participate in Beijing, Hiroshima (1994) and Doha (2006).
Lhuillier treated the Blu Girls to dinner in an Incheon hotel on Wednesday where he made the announcement of keeping the team which is composed of nine homegrowns mostly from Adamson University, University of the East, Ateneo and Rizal Technological University and six Filipino-Americans.

The Blu Girls are returning home on an evening Philippine Airlines flight on Saturday.

“But Friday will be shopping day for the girls,” a beaming Santiago said. “We will paint Seoul blue on Friday!”

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