INDIANAPOLIS – With owner Billie Jean King on the bench cheering every shot, the New York City WTT KingPins presented by GEICO finished the inaugural Professional Bowlers Association League championship match with a string of seven consecutive strikes to defeat the Motown Muscle, 440-407, and claim the Elias Cup at Woodland Bowl.
The PBA League Elias Cup finals aired Sunday on ESPN.
The KingPins, the top qualifiers among eight teams that competed in five preliminary rounds earlier in the season in Detroit, put together a string of five strikes to take a 202-181 lead after the first game of the two-game, total pinfall championship match. But the Motown Muscle, owned by former Pittsburgh Steelers star Jerome Bettis, rallied to tie the match after five frames of game two.
In the Baker format contest, where each of the five team member bowls two frames to complete a game, the tide turned when the two teams switched lanes after five frames. After struggling to strike on the right lane, the KingPins didn’t miss in their final five frames on the left lane. Consecutive strikes by Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C.; Jack Jurek of Lackawanna, N.Y.; John Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda, N.Y.; Scott Norton of Mission Viejo, Calif., and newly-crown Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions winner Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., locked up the title for King’s team.
After throwing the decisive strike in the 10th frame, Weber benched himself and brought in KingPins’ supplemental draft pick Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J., to finish off the match. The only woman in the PBA League field threw two more strikes to conclude the contest.
“We knew the Muscle had to come back on the right lane after five frames and they hadn’t bowled on that lane in 10 frames,” Weber said. “We ate up some oil and they just didn’t make the adjustments.
“My team is the best team. I knew from the start we were going to be hard to beat,” he added. “We started communicating in Detroit and I knew at that point we were going to be something special.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to have Billie Jean King as our team owner,” Weber continued, “and it’s an honor and a privilege to give her the first Elias Cup trophy.”
King, who admitted she doesn’t know a great deal about bowling, was an avid cheerleader for her team.
“I was so calm playing tennis, but I was not so calm watching today,” she said. “I was dying. The match was so close.
“I loved my team right from the start,” King added. “I watched them on ESPN; I even watched one match on a Jet Blue flight, but I could tell they worked together great. I was very happy to be here for the finals.
“I love it; it’s exactly what I believe in. If you watch a World Team Tennis match, you’ll see my philosophy on life: it’s men and women working together, because we’re in this world together and we have to help each other.”
In the opening match of the finals, Terrell Owens watched his Dallas Strikers (Bryon Smith of Roseburg, Ore.; Amleto Monacelli of Venezuela; Rhino Page of Dade City, Fla.; Mike Machuga of Erie, Pa., and Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla.) strike on five of their final six shots to defeat actor Jesse Williams’ BROOKLYN STyLES (Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Ocala, Fla.; Jason Sterner of McDonough, Ga.; Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y.; Ryan Shafer of Horseheads, N.Y., and Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill.), 217-172.
Motown (DJ Archer of Friendswood, Texas; Jesse Buss of Belvidere, Ill.; Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Mich.; Ronnie Russell of Indianapolis, and Mike Fagan of Dallas) then eliminated the Strikers, 216-190. Fagan threw three strikes in the 10th frame to force the Strikers’ Duke to throw two strikes in his 10th frame, but the PBA Hall of Famer left a 4-6-7 split on his first shot to give Motown the win.
The Elias Cup was named in honor of the PBA’s founder and long-time leader, Eddie Elias. Elias’ wife, Peggy, and daughter Annie Elias made the trophy presentation in Indianapolis. The winners shared a $75,000 team prize.
PBA League competition will resume during the 2013 PBA World Series of Bowling V at South Point Bowling Center in Las Vegas Oct. 25-Nov. 3.
The PBA Tour will return to action in the GEICO PBA Summer Swing May 20-June 2 in a four-tournament event hosted by three Milwaukee area bowling centers: AMF West, AMF Waukesha and AMF Bowlero in suburban Wauwatosa, Wis. The finals of the Badger, Wolf, Bear and Milwaukee Open tournaments – along with a GEICO Summer King of the Swing special event – will be televised by CBS Sports Network.
PBA LEAGUE ELIAS CUP FINALS
Woodland Bowl, Indianapolis, March 31 (aired April 7)
1, NYC WTT KingPins presented by GEICO (Tommy Jones, Jack Jurek, John Szczerbinski, Scott Norton, Pete Weber, Kelly Kulick), $75,000.
2, Motown Muscle (DJ Archer, Jesse Buss, Tom Smallwood, Ronnie Russell, Mike Fagan, Mike Scroggins), $30,000.
3, Dallas Strikers (Bryon Smith, Amleto Monacelli, Rhino Page, Mike Machuga, Norm Duke, Mike Wolfe), $20,000.
4, BROOKLYN STyLES (Walter Ray Williams Jr., Jason Sterner, Ryan Ciminelli, Ryan Shafer, Sean Rash, Tom Hess), $10,000.
Stepladder Finals (Baker format):
Match One – Dallas Strikers def. BROOKLYN STyLES, 217-172.
Semifinal Match - Motown Muscle def. Dallas Strikers, 216-190.
Championship (two games, total pinfall - New York City WTT KingPins (202-238) def. Motown Muscle (181-226), 440-407.