International Players Top U.S.A. in PBA World Series of Bowling Team Event

by Bill Vint January 9, 2011 06:28

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – For two weeks, nearly 250 of the world’s best bowlers battled each other in a grueling series of individual events during the Professional Bowlers Association’s World Series of Bowling at South Point Bowling Center. On the final day, the best from America met the best from the rest of the world, and the World defeated the U.S.A.

The special six-player U.S.A. vs. The World team competition aired Sunday on ESPN.

The PBA World Series of Bowling’s special team event pitted the six American bowlers who had finished highest in the 60-game qualifying session against the six international bowlers who had fared best while bowling 12 games per day on five different lane conditions. The six-man team event awarded one point for each of six head-to-head matches, plus three points to the team with the highest total pinfall.

While the head-to-head matches wound up in a 3-3 tie, The World won the team total battle and decisive three points, 1,251-1,208.

“It was fun,” said Australia’s Jason Belmonte, who defeated Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, 254-215, in their head-to-head match. “But fun or not, we’re competitors. We don’t like to lose.”

Michael Haugen Jr. of Carefree, Ariz., gave the U.S. a healthy lead when he defeated Finland’s Kimmo Lehtonen, 246-161, in the first match. Canada’s Dan MacLelland trimmed the American lead in Match Two when he topped Ronnie Russell of Camby, Ind., 192-169. Belmonte then put The World into the overall lead, and fellow two-handed specialist Osku Palermaa of Finland padded the international team’s lead with his easy 227-150 victory over Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill.

Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, tried to get the U.S. back into the match, but a late surge of four strikes by opponent Mika Koivuniemi, the third Finn on The World team, closed Barnes’ margin of victory to a modest three pins, 227-224. International anchor bowler Amleto Monacelli of Venezuela started his game with four strikes and held off a rally by U.S. anchor Bill O’Neill of Southampton, Pa., who won the point, 201-193, but it wasn’t enough to overcome The World’s overall lead.

“It was a long, tiring two weeks,” O’Neill said. “The team match was a good way to end the World Series, even though we lost. I hope we get to do it again next year.”

The team competition was the prelude to the final event of the PBA World Series of Bowling – the PBA World Championship. On Thursday, Jan. 14, the 2010-11 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour season kicks into high gear with a “first” – three days of live stepladder final action featuring the top eight qualifiers in a battle for a $50,000 first prize and the PBA Tour’s first major title of the year. The eight players who will battle for the PBA World Championship will return to South Point Bowling Center where they qualified by bowling 12 games on each of five different PBA lane conditioning patterns during the PBA World Series of Bowling in late October.

The eight-man stepladder final begins with No. 7 qualifier Malott bowling a one-game match against No. 8 Belmonte on Friday, Jan. 14, at 5 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2. The winner will bowl No. 6 qualifier Haugen.

On Saturday, Jan. 15, Friday’s winner will meet No. 5 qualifier Koivuniemi in the opening match at 9 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2. That winner will meet No. 4 Barnes.

The PBA World Championship finals shift to ESPN on Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern, when Saturday night’s survivor will start the show against No. 3 Palermaa. The winner advances to the semifinal match against No. 2 Rash. O’Neill, the PBA World Championship’s top qualifier, will then take on the semifinal match survivor in a one-game battle for the $50,000 top prize and the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour’s first major title of the 2010-11 season.

Special insider coverage of the PBA World Championship will be available on pba.com’s Xtra Frame video streaming service. To subscribe, visit pba.com, and click on the Xtra Frame logo.

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