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ABL CHAMPIONS TO BATTLE ASIA'S BEST
05/18/2011 2:08 PM ET
 
The Australian Baseball League's reputation as a world-class competition has been given another boost with the announcement that the championship-winning 'Alcohol Think Again' Perth Heat have been invited to the prestigious Asia Series to compete against the best teams from Japan, Korea and Taiwan in November 2011.

With baseball being the most popular sport in all three opposition countries, the Asia Series is expected to draw a total television audience of more than five million viewers.

First played in 2005 to determine the best team in the region, the Asia Series will see the Heat compete against title-winning teams from Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball, the Korean Baseball Organisation, and the Chinese Professional Baseball League. Korea, Japan and Taiwan are ranked third, fourth and fifth in the world respectively.

The Heat will have their work cut out for them and competition for the title is expected to be fierce with many of the best players in the world on display for teams that routinely boast payrolls in excess of $30 million per season.

ABL Chief Executive Officer Peter Wermuth said he was delighted the League could accept the invitation to compete.

"This will be a huge opportunity to showcase just how good the standard of play is in the ABL," Wermuth said, "In a short space of time the ABL has earned a lot of respect in the international baseball community and the chance to go head to head with the best teams in the region is one the Heat will relish."

Backed by Major League Baseball and the Australian Baseball Federation, the ABL is no stranger to world-class Asian baseball talent, with twelve Japanese players having competed in the competition's inaugural season including big leaguers Itaru Hashimoto, Yoshiyuki Kamei and Norihito Kaneto with the 'Jet Couriers' Melbourne Aces, and Shuhei Fukuda and Hiroki Yamada with the Brisbane Bandits.

Koreans who thrilled fans while playing for the Canberra Cavalry included catcher Sung-Woo Jang, infielder Kyu-Hyun Moon and outfielder Seung-Hwa Lee, while Sydney Blue Sox pitcher Dae-Sung Koo won the League's 'Reliever of the Year' award after a brilliant season on the mound.

In addition, Melbourne Aces pitching duo Adam Bright and Travis Blackley are competing in Japan and Korea respectively.

The Perth Heat defeated the Adelaide 'ETSA' Bite 2-1 in the best-of-three Delta Air Lines ABL Championship Series in mid-February before sold out crowds and a live national television audience. The team boasted the likes of Australian national team and Minnesota Twins Major League player Luke Hughes in its potent line-up.

After arriving in Taiwan on 23 November, the teams will each play three preliminary games in a round-robin format between 25-27 November, with the top two clubs to battle for the title on 29 November.

The 2011/12 ABL season will commence on 3 November, and the Heat has been allocated a bye while they compete in the Asia Series.

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.