With an unprecedented six-team pool ready to compete, the 2012 Asia Series is scheduled to start at the Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan, South Korea, this afternoon with the Lamigo Monkeys of Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) taking on the Chinese Baseball League (CBL) All-stars in a highly anticipated match.
The originally four-team tournament, formerly known as the Konami Cup, which was intended for the champs from the four Asian countries (China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan) that play baseball at the professional level to compete for the right to be named Asia’s top team, has expanded to a field of six squads this year, with the champs from Australia’s Australian Baseball League (ABL) and the Lotte Giants of Busan also taking part.
The six teams are divided into two pools this year with the champs from South Korea’s Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), the Samsung Lions, the Monkeys and the CBL All-stars playing in Group A, while the Lotte Giants, the Perth Heat of the ABL and Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) champs, the Yomiuri Giants, are set to do battle in Group B.
Teams from each group are to play the other two teams in the preliminary round, before the winner from each group meets in the title game on Sunday.
“It’s quite an honor to be able to represent Taiwan in this year’s event; we have a good team and we will try our best to bring home the title,” Lamigo skipper Hong Yi-chung said late last week before the team left for Busan.
The Primates will have a chance to improve on their second-place finish in 2006, when their predecessors, the La New Bears, lost to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in the title game in a 1-0 heartbreaker.
While the game against the Chinese may be slightly in favor of the Monkeys, the match against the Lions tomorrow night is definitely going to be an uphill battle for the Taiwanese as the home team will try every trick in the book to keep the Monkeys from reaching the title game on Sunday.
In Group B, the Yomiuri Giants are the unquestioned favorites to win the preliminaries as the Japanese look to extend their dominance in this competition, having won four of the five series played thus far, with their lone loss to the South Koreans coming last year when the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks dropped a 5-3 decision to the Samsung Lions.
Should the Lotte Giants top the Yomiuri Giants in the “battle of the Giants,” Sunday’s title game could very well be an all-Korean affair.