An International Affair

by PBA Editor September 21, 2007 19:00
After 18 years of American domination in the Dydo Japan Cup, this year’s finals will have a decidedly international flavor.

Five Japanese bowlers, one Korean, one Finn and one American bowler make up the eight finalists for the Dydo Japan Cup 2007, the first event of the 2007-08 Denny’s PBA Tour. All nine of last year’s finalists were American PBA stars.

Denny’s PBA Tour stars Mika Koivuniemi (Hartland, Mich.) and Mike Wolfe (New Albany, Ind.) join five members of the Japan Professional Bowling Association (JPBA) and one member of the Korean Professional Bowling Association (KPBA) for Sunday’s finals at the Tokyo Metro Gymnasium which will award a $50,000 top prize.

Japanese players won two of the first four Japan Cups in 1985 and ’88, with Venezuelan PBA star Amleto Monacelli winning the 1987 event. Since then, American PBA stars have won 18 consecutive times in the event, which annually pits 20 of the top PBA bowlers against stars of Japan and Korea.

A format change in this year’s event brought about much more uncertainty over who would advance to the finals. This year’s Japan Cup featured single elimination, best-of-three-games match play rather than the round robin match play format used in year’s past.

The anything-can-happen nature of the format reared its head in the first round, when top-seeded Mike Scroggins (Amarillo, Texas) fell to No. 64 Shigeo Saito, 2-0. Saito won his next two matches to advance to Sunday’s finals, along with fellow JPBA stars Takashi Masuda, Yoshiki Ohsawa, Masao Uehara and Isao Yamamoto along with KPBA star Byun Yong Hwan.

At just 25 years old, Yamamoto is the top young star in Japan as he is ranked No. 2 in the JPBA rankings. The lefty will take on Koivuniemi in the Round of 8, who is known on the Denny’s PBA Tour as the “left-handers’ worst nightmare,” due to his 12-2 career record against lefties on television.

“I’m playing probably the best Japanese bowler right now, but I like my record against lefties and I’d like to keep it that way,” Koivuniemi, looking to become the first European to win the Japan Cup, said. “This format is very different because it’s so short, but it’s the same for everyone. You have to execute and make shots when you need to.”

When told of Koivuniemi’s record against lefties, Yamamoto, who is about a foot shorter than the Big Finn, laughed and said he would be the third to defeat him. He then got serious and discussed his chances Sunday as he will look to become the first Japanese player to defend their home turf since Takeo Sakai in 1988.

“It doesn’t matter who I bowl, whether it’s Mika or one of the other JPBA players or a KPBA player,” Yamamoto said. “I joked when I said I would be the third to beat him, but I have to believe that because if I get nervous about who I’m bowling then mentally I have already lost. I want to be confident in myself and not worry about being left-handed or bowling a PBA player.”

As for Wolfe, he has Jack Jurek to thank for his appearance in Japan this week. Jurek recently dropped out of the event as one of the 16 bowlers earning all-expenses paid trips. That allowed Koivuniemi to move into one of those 16 spots rather than taking a spot as one of the four additional players invited to pay their own way. A spot then opened up for Wolfe, who flew in for his second career Japan Cup.

Wolfe had to get past fellow Denny’s PBA Tour star Sean Rash in the Round of 16. After dropping the first game, 212-179, Wolfe came roaring back to win the next two games by scores of 246-198 and 285-224. Rash (Wichita, Kan.) was making his first career Japan Cup appearance. Wolfe will take on Saito in the Round of 8.

Koivuniemi needed a roll-off in the deciding third game against two-time Japan Cup champion Tommy Jones (Simpsonville, S.C.) to win his Round of 32 match. The two former PBA Players of the Year split the first two games before tying at 246 in the third game. After both struck with their first shots in the sudden death roll-off, Koivuniemi struck with his next shot while Jones could only knock down nine.

The Big Finn then had to come back from a deficit in the Round of 16 to defeat No. 59 Hiroshi Nagatani, 2-1. After dropping game one, 259-232, Koivuniemi closed out the match with wins of 246-221 and 202-196.

Japan’s Ohsawa had an impressive day, going 6-0 in knocking off three PBA stars to advance to the finals. He defeated 26-time champion Norm Duke (Clermont, Fla.) in the Round of 64, all-time Denny’s PBA Tour titles leader (42) Walter Ray Williams Jr. (Ocala, Fla.) in the Round of 32 and Chris Loschetter (Avon, Ohio) in the Round of 16.

The eight-bowler finals take place Sunday at the Tokyo Metro Gymnasium. All Round of 8 matches are single-game matches followed by two single-game semifinals and the title match.

The championship round will air tape-delayed on ESPN Sunday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. ET.


Denny’s PBA Tour
Dydo Japan Cup 2007
Shinagawa Prince Hotel Bowling Center
Tokyo, Japan
Saturday, September 22

ROUND OF 16

(Single elimination, best-of-three games. Losers eliminated, earn $2,500.)

#64 Shigeo Saito, Japan, def. #16 Yasuyuki Sadamatsu, Japan, 2-1 (224-202, 211-226, 268-246).
#9 Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., def. #40 Sean Rash, Wichita, Kan., 2-1 (179-212, 246-198, 285-224).
#60 Yoshiki Ohsawa, Japan, def. #12 Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 2-0 (235-225, 232-226).
#13 Takashi Masuda, Japan, def. #36 Tamiki Miike, Japan, 2-0 (196-179, 203-178).
#3 Isao Yamamoto, Japan, def. #14 Toshio Umeda, Japan, 2-0 (258-156, 213-187).
#22 Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., def. #59 Hiroshi Nagatani, Japan, 2-1 (232-259, 246-221, 202-196).
#42 Byun Yong Hwan, Korea, def. #58 Takashi Kudo, Japan, 2-0 (218-164, 258-207).
#50 Masao Uehara, Japan, def. #2 Yukio Yamazaki, Japan, 2-1 (208-168, 173-226, 227-200).

ROUND OF 32
(Single elimination, best-of-three games. Losers eliminated, earn $2,000.)

#64 Shigeo Saito, Japan, def. #33 Takeo Sakai, Japan, 2-0 (234-214, 259-213).
#16 Yasuyuki Sadamatsu, Japan, def. #48 Susumu Nakazawa, Japan, 2-1 (213-222, 160-149, 212-172).
#9 Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., def. #41 Yoshihiro Sakuaraba, Japan, 2-0 (248-192, 228-197).
#40 Sean Rash, Wichita, Kan., def. #8 Tony Reyes, San Bruno, Calif., 2-0 (207-198, 232-195).
#60 Yoshiki Ohsawa, Japan, def. #28 Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla., 2-0 (245-220, 257-201).
#12 Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, def. #44 Yoshimi Kitaoka, Japan, 2-1 (248-208, 247-268, 256-226).
#13 Takashi Masuda, Japan, def. #20 Doug Kent, Newark, N.Y., 2-1 (221-177, 214-242, 212-187).
#36 Tamiki Miike, Japan, def. #4 Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 2-0 (219-182, 238-224).
#3 Isao Yamamoto, Japan, def. #30 Syuichi Heki, Japan, 2-1 (244-212, 253-276, 237-191).
#14 Toshio Umeda, Japan, def. #19 Daiki Ikeda, Japan, 2-0 (194-190, 203-203*).
#22 Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., def. #11 Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 2-1 (255-223, 204-263, 246-246**).
#59 Hiroshi Nagatani, Japan, def. #38 Shigeyuki Mizuno, Japan, 2-1 (178-188, 192-183, 247-218).
#58 Takashi Kudo, Japan, def. #39 Katsuya Kamida, Japan, 2-0 (233-213, 202-201).
#42 Byun Yong Hwan, Korea, def. #55 Toshifumi Kojima, Japan, 2-0 (204-193, 204-188).
#50 Masao Uehara, Japan, def. #47 Hisayoshi Nishida, Japan, 2-0 (219-206, 235-216).
#2 Yukio Yamazaki, Japan, def. #31 Toshohiko Takahashi, Japan, 2-0 (215-204, 234-220).

*Umeda won in a five-ball roll-off, 54-55.
**Koivuniemi won in a two-ball roll-off, 20-19.

ROUND OF 64
(Single elimination, best-of-three games. Losers eliminated, earn $1,000.)

#64 Shigeo Saito, Japan, def. #1 Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 2-0 (269-202, 280-234).
#33 Takeo Sakai, Japan, def. #32 Yoichi Nakayama, Japan, 2-0 (223-162, 267-205).
#48 Susumu Nakazawa, Japan, def. #17 Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 2-0 (237-198, 235-232).
#16 Yasuyuki Sadamastu, Japan, def. #49 Taro Syoji, Japan, 2-0 (180-161, 193-187).
#9 Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., def. #56 Manabu Mochida, Japan, 2-0 (265-256, 238-196).
#41 Yoshihiro Sakuraba, Japan, def. #24 Yasaharu Tsuno, Japan, 2-1 (238-200, 166-233, 238-203).
#40 Sean Rash, Wichita, Kan., def. #25 Akio Ishihara, Japan, 2-1 (217-252, 214-190, 235-205).
#8 Tony Reyes, San Bruno, Calif., def. #57 Hideyuki Okano, 2-0 (245-225, 253-225).
#60 Yoshiki Ohsawa, Japan, def. #5 Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 2-0 (237-237*, 247-211).
#28 Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla., def. #37 Steve Jaros, Yorkville, Ill., 2-1 (213-224, 215-197, 243-224).
#44 Yoshimi Kitaoka, Japan, def. #21 Teruyuki Obara, Japan, 2-1 (187-189, 233-181, 269-217).
#12 Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, def. #53 Kim Young Pil, Korea, 2-0 (256-236, 256-225).
#13 Takashi Masuda, Japan, def. #52 Nobuyuki Cho, Japan, 2-1 (278-221, 205-255, 231-202).
#20 Doug Kent, Newark, N.Y., def. #45 Jeff Carter, Springfield, Ill., 2-0 (256-238, 197-179).
#36 Tamiki Miike, Japan, def. #29 Yoshinori Minami, Japan, 2-0 (222-203, 233-160).
#4 Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., def. #61 Minoru Sendan, Japan, 2-0 (247-205, 227-199).
#3 Isao Yamamoto, Japan, def. #62 Tsubasa Tsuchiya, Japan, 2-0 (249-237, 259-247).
#30 Syuichi Heki, Japan, def. ##35 Nobuaki Takahashi, Japan, 2-1 (201-224, 229-213, 223-189).
#19 Daiki Ikeda, Japan, def. #46 Koichi Takahashi, Japan, 2-0 (257-213, 202-180).
#14 Toshio Umeda, Japan, def. #51 Masaaki Takemoto, Japan, 2-0 (206-187, 212-209).
#11 Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., def. #54 Akio Harada, Japan, 2-1 (225-214, 232-236, 180-156).
#22 Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., def. #43 Jeong Tae Hwa, Korea, 2-0 (289-207, 247-245).
#38 Shigeyuki Mizuno, Japan, def. #27 Masahiro Suto, Japan, 2-1 (193-203, 198-158, 247-181).
#59 Hiroshi Nagatani, Japan, def. #6 Bill O’Neill, Levittown, Pa., 2-1 (245-214, 196-226, 233-205).
#58 Takashi Kudo, Japan, def. #7 Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 2-1 (239-258, 236-189, 200-195).
#39 Katsuya Kamida, Japan, def. #26 Makoto Endo, Japan, 2-0 (214-199, 236-170).
#42 Byun Yong Hwan, Korea, def. #23 Masami Matsumoto, Japan, 2-0 (190-189, 202-194).
#55 Toshifumi Kojima, Japan, def. #10 Tommy Delutz Jr., Flushing, N.Y., 2-1 (246-245, 194-220, 233-212).
#50 Masao Uehara, Japan, def. #15 Koji Kawazu, Japan, 2-0 (224-206, 268-214).
#47 Hisayoshi Nishida, Japan, def. #18 Naoharu Okabe, Japan, 2-1 (245-226, 213-233, 247-211).
#31 Toshohiko Takahashi, Japan, def. #34 Kageyuki Amano, Japan, 2-0 (255-182, 276-213).
#2 Yukio Yamazaki, Japan, def. #63 Takashi Sugimachi, Japan, 2-1 (211-197, 216-238, 226-204).

*Ohsawa won in a one-ball roll-off, 10-9.

300 games – None.
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