Tebow excited to join Philippines in World Baseball Classic

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Former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow will compete for the Phillipines in next month's qualifying tournament for the 2021 World Baseball Classic

Former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow will compete for the Phillipines in next month's qualifying tournament for the 2021 World Baseball Classic (AFP Photo/Garrett Ellwood)

New York (AFP) - Former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, trying to realize his dream of playing Major League Baseball, was named Wednesday to the Philippines team in next month's World Baseball Classic qualifying tournament.

The 32-year-old minor-league outfielder, one step below the major leagues last year in the New York Mets organization, was born in Makati, Philippines, to a US couple there as Baptist missionaries.

"Grateful and excited to play for team Philippines in the @WBCbaseball ... the country I was born in and somewhere that is near and dear to my heart!" Tebow tweeted after the WBC tweeted news of his spot on the Filipino roster.

The Philippines will compete March 20-25 at Tucson, Arizona, against Britain, New Zealand, Spain, Panama and the Czech Republic for two available berths in the 2021 World Classic.

Tebow led the University of Florida to two US national collegiate titles before being taken with the 25th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos.

In 2011, the young passer became known for "Tebowing" after a comeback overtime victory over Miami, kneeling on one knee in prayer with head bent and arm resting on the other knee.

He sparked a late-season Denver charge into the playoffs and a post-season upset of Pittsburgh but was traded to the New York Jets in March 2012 after the Broncos signed star quarterback Peyton Manning.

Tebow struggled to catch on after one season with the Jets and in 2016 turned to baseball, a sport he had not played since high school. He has worked his way up the developmental ranks as he competes in pre-season workouts with the Mets.

Tebow ignored overtures from the XFL, an NFL-like eight-team league that debuted this month, to continue his baseball quest.

Defending champion United States is already in the 20-team lineup for the fifth World Baseball Classic, which will be staged March 9-23, 2021, in Taiwan, Japan, Phoenix, Arizona and Miami.

Two teams each from the Asian venues and the US sites will advance to the semi-finals March 21 at Marlins Park in Miami, with the winner's meeting for the title on March 23.

Japan won the first two Classic crowns in 2006 and 2009 followed by the Dominican Republic in 2013 as elite talent from the top global leagues met in unprecedented showdowns for their homelands.