The fight for the last spot in the baseball competition for the Tokyo Olympics starts tonight as the Final Qualifier opens in Puebla, Mexico. The tournament is smaller than originally planned as three of the six teams expected to play in it - China, Taiwan and Australia - ended up dropping out due to COVID-19 related travel issues. As a result, only Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, the second and third place teams from the America's Qualifier earlier this month, and the Netherlands, the runner up from the Europe/Africa Qualifier all the way back in September of 2019, will be taking part.
I've only been able to identify four former NPB players on the rosters of the three teams and all of them are with the Dominican Republic. Three of those players were on the Domincan's roster for the America's Qualifier as well while the other one (Frank Garces) is an alternate player. Juan Francisco played for the Yomiuri Giants in 2015, Radhames Liz played for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2016 and Garces and Roman Mendez played for the Saitama Seibu Lions and Hanshin Tigers respectively in 2017:
|2015 BBM 2nd Version #356|
|2017 Epoch Lions #23|
|2016 BBM 1st Version #143|
|2017 BBM 1st Version #248|
I was a little surprised and disappointed that neither Rick Van Den Hurk (Swallows) nor Wladimir Balentien (Hawks) were on the Netherlands team. Maybe if they make the Olympics the two of them will be put on the roster. I feel I should mention though that the manager of the team, Hensley Meulens, spent three seasons in Japan with the Chiba Lotte Marines (1994) and the Yakult Swallows (1995-96). Meulens also played for the Netherlands in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and has been the manager for the Netherlands team in all the major international tournaments (WBC, Premier 12, etc) since 2013.
|1994 Takara Marines #31|