LAS VEGAS - The contingent of six bowlers from Bahrain experienced their biggest competitive challenge to date by competing in their first PBA World Series of Bowling.
After competing in the first four so-called “animal pattern” events, the Middle East competitors sat down with their coach, former PBA Tour competitor Tim Mack of Indianapolis, to assess their performances.
Mack, a well-known international champion who has won more than 70 titles around the world on his way to winning World Bowler of the Year honors three times, took over as Bahrain’s head coach in June.
It was through his experience competing internationally that Mack targeted the World Series as an opportunity for his players to dramatically expand their horizons as world-class bowlers.
Of the six players entered, 34-year-old Fawaz Abdullah has probably had the best overall success.
In the Scorpion Open, Abdulla was in contention, advancing to the final Round of 16 by finishing eighth after the first block with a 1,797 eight-game pinfall total that included games of 175, 193, 215, 222, 237, 240 and 300. He rolled 20 straight strikes in the last two games and his 300 was one of 11 bowled in the tournament at the completion of the animal pattern tournaments. But he just missed the cut to the Round of 16, finishing 18th.
Abdulla’s other World Series finishes have included a 44th in the Chameleon Open, 162nd in the Bayer Viper Open and 163rd in the Shark Open.
“I have always had problems getting started,” Abdulla said. “But I’ve gained a lot of confidence as the tournament progresses. With Tim’s help I’m getting better with making adjustments and making the right ball changes.”
The other members of the Bahrain team competing in the World Series are Mohammed Al Swawoosh, Mahd Assad, Masoud Saberi, Hameed Taqi and Yousif Falah, who had a top finish of 27th in the GEICO Shark Open.
In their debut against a field of 204 of the world’s best players, Abdullah averaged 206.63 and Falah averaged 206.06 for 32 games on four PBA lanes conditions. The other four failed to reach the 200 average plateau, but it was all about the learning experience.
“Before Tim became our coach, our training was concentrated on the physical game,” said Falah, who has won several medals in international competition and beat Mack, 196-178, in the championship match to win the 2009 Sinai Open. “Now we have so much more knowledge from everything to changing lane conditions, bowling equipment and the mental part of the game.”
Mack, who made his name bowling internationally, relishes the opportunity to pursue coaching as a career, especially with a team that shows a lot of potential.
“The World Series is a big step in elevating their experience level and becoming better bowlers by competing against the best in the world,” Mack said. “I stressed that this is an event they had to bowl because the experience will be invaluable.”
Since Mack has been coaching them, the team has shown a lot of progress, most recently earning seven medals, including two golds, in the inaugural Gulf Cooperation Council Games in October in Bahrain.
“You can see their confidence level growing exponentially,” Mack said. “They have the ability—all they’re lacking is experience and that’s what they’re getting here.
“We’ve been able to train on the PBA conditions, provide them with the latest equipment and overall provide them with some insight as to what it will be like to compete in the PBA arena, but there’s nothing like on-the-job training.”
Soon after the World Series the Bahrain team will head to the Arab Games in Qatar in December and like many countries internationally, it’s important for them to do well to get more funding in the future.
“Bowling is taken very seriously as a competitive sport and a lot of that has to do with its drive to become an Olympic sport,” Mack said. “If we have good results we can get more funding which will help makes us a better team.”