The Sixth Hong Kong International Baseball Open opened today. The tournament was launched in 2012 and has been played every December in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s national team has participated every year as either one club or two (Red and Under-18 Blue), regularly playing clubs from China, Russia, Taiwan, The Philippines, and the US, but this is the first year that other nations have sent teams.
The national teams participating are Hong Kong (roster) and Singapore (roster), though a ‘Russia’ team is playing that is a mixture of Vladivostok and some Under-17 Russian players (roster). Disappointingly, Nepal was meant to participate, but could not get visas to enter Hong Kong. Nepal had its best year of baseball in 2017, with a strong performance in the West Asia Cup. This is the third national team that missed a tournament for visa issues: India missed the West Asia Cup and Ghana could not participate in a tour we organised, the Ghana Friendship Series.
Last year, the Ateneo University Blue Eagles (Philippines) won the title, which mixed club and national teams, but this year, clubs and countries will play separately. Ateneo, which also won in 2014, will return this year in the club portion. Also returning are Lanzhou New Way (China) and Hong Kong Blue (U18 National Team), while Sydney University will play for the first time.
With only three national teams, the schedule is brief:
14 December 2:30 a.m. GMT/10:30 p.m. EST: Hong Kong vs Singapore
15 December 3:30 a.m. GMT/11:30 p.m. EST: Russia vs Singapore
16 December 6:30 a.m. GMT/2:30 a.m. EST: Hong Kong vs Russia
17 December 4 a.m. GMT/midnight EST: Championship Game