Junior Diamond Blacks ready for Oceania challenge

By James Perry

The Junior Diamond Blacks will head to Guam on Saturday to compete in the Oceania Baseball Championship next week. Their aim is to qualify for the U18 Baseball World Champs in Korea in September.

Outfielder Dominic Elliott says the preparations this week have gone well. 

"Most of us have really prepared for this and are extremely ready for what's about to come."

What is about to come is a whirlwind five games in five days on the Micronesian island. 

Huriwaka Repia, who plays catcher, echos Elliott's observations- "all the boys I see are working hard.  They want to get everything that they want to do done properly." 

The Junior Diamond Blacks are keen to get to Guam where they'll face the best the Pacific has to offer.

They play the host nation along with Palau, American Samoa and Australia next week.  

Infielder, Tukuteihu Repia, is looking forward to showing the rest of Oceania what he and his team have to offer. 

"Going over there, playing against these players, helping us develop, helping us get ready for long term and hopefully get eyes out there and get spotted."

Elliott has played against Guam, beating them in the Philippines.  However, Palau is an unknown quantity. 

"What I've heard is that they've also got a very good team but we have a high chance of beating them, and hopefully beating Australia too," the Mt Roskill Grammar student says. 

Australia has been the dominant team in Oceania for a while.

Baseball NZ CEO, Ryan Flynn says, "They've had 120 years of baseball, they have a lot of resources from [Major League Baseball] and everybody else."

But he has high hopes for this Junior Diamond Blacks team. 

"These boys have played everywhere, so I've told them I expect that they'll come home with the gold." 

Huriwaka Repia is also keen to return home victorious.  However he understands the task at hand, saying, "No team's easy. [We've] still got to play our hardest and every team, they'll go out there they want the game and they just give it their all."

The Junior Diamond Blacks leave for Guam on Saturday, with their first game against the host nation on Tuesday.