Last week, in the Storm San Marino Open, the ten-strong group of Malaysia's elite national squad found the lanes of the Rose 'n Bowl in the republic's capital Serravalle very much to their liking and not only took the top three places but nine of the ten finished in the money.
Now the intrepid dozen, including team manager Cheah Ban Cheng, known to all as just 'BC', and talented coach Holloway Cheah, have made their way to Bowling Pedralbes in Barcelona and are setting their sights on doing the same again and have now been named the 'Malaysian Marauders'.
All ten players are on the roster for the 17:00 squad, the first of two squads this warm and sunny Wednesday afternoon. The second squad follows at 21:00 for the nighthawks.
Leftie Alex Liew was the star of the San Marino show. Left-hander Gery Verbruggen from Belgium is the defending champion. Could they dominate here this week. That remains to be seen.
Over the last few years we have enjoyed the company of Pete Weber and other merrie PBA players but this year the United States are only represented by Brian Voss and Mike Fagan, although PBA star Mika Koivuniemi of Finnish origin is in the line-up.
Setting the pace with 476 over the first two games, Malaysia's Zulmazran Zulkifli had the idea of being the pioneer to break into the 1400-barrier but others had their own ides about that, especially Zul's team-mate Syafiq Ridhwan.
The 26-year-old student going for a bachelor's degree hit six solid 200-plus games with a high of 268 in the fifth. A final 225 passed him through the 1400 mark to total 1403 and set the new score at the top of the leader board.
"I just bowled my normal game, that's all," stated Ridhwan, at the end of the squad. "I did make some minor adjustments. I used the right equipment, kept scoring and picked up all the spares. I just had to be patient.
"Hopefully I am going to win this tournament and qualify for the European Bowling Tour Masters. (He is currently eighth in the rankings) so I hope I can bowl good.
"The lane conditions in European tournaments suit me. Back home in Asia the lanes are a lot drier so you have to make a lot of adjustments. In Europe the lanes are quite easy."
Zulkifli was doing fine until the sixth and final game, then a 193 saw him drop to third place behind Christian Racpan.
Leading woman on the squad was Denmark's Mai Ginge Jensen, posting 1336 including bonus.
Three-time WBW World Bowler of the Year Dominic Barrett from Colchester, England was one of the leading lights to take to the Bowling Pedralbes lanes for the final squad of Thursday and gazing from above he did not look at all a happy bunny.
Our mezzanine media area gives a fie view of the approaches and half the lanes but we cannot see the scores or the pins.
Also contending for honors were Brian Voss , his second entry, and Clara Guerrero from Colombia, although now living in Texas, USA. No sign, as yet, of Venezuelan Amleto Monacelli, the PBA multi-titlist, but we are assured that he will eventually arrive. A similar story for another American pro, Mike Fagan, but there are still three days of the qualifying rounds to go.
The Malaysians departed soon after Squad 2 but they will be back for the 09:00 squad 4 on Friday. Each squad now has a waiting list and the tournament crew are doing a magnificent job of keep track of the entries.
Local bowler Moises Perez came home with 1323 and looked to be the leader of squad 3. He was over on lanes 13/14 but then the action quickly centered on 3/4 and 5/6 as Sweden's Kim Bolleby hit the first nine strikes and looked to be a contender. Then Brian Voss on 3/4 suddenly piled in seven in a row to finish with 254. Lo and behold, the american pipped them all with 1362 and therefore books his place in Sunday's finals. More time on the beach.
Perez took second place on the squad and from the Netherlands came Bianca Wiekeraad to top the female contingent with 1287 for third squad place.
"After bowling yesterday I came in with a little different strategy today," Brian Voss told us. "For the first two games I went right hard and straight (236, 237). That's what you do in this game, you go out and you learn what not to do and learn what to do. Then you have to do it with conviction and make sure have the right attack. It turned out to be good. Yeah, I do alright for an old man.
"Yes, I used the same balls as yesterday but it was all about getting feel for the pattern so I'm just learning to have the ability to know what I have to do. Yes, it was a real good day. At least I don't have to bowl again until sunday but I will be practicing somewhere else. I knew that if I didn't bowl well tonight and win this squad I would be sitting on a waiting list."
TOP 25 STANDINGS AFTER SQUAD 3:
|5||Mai Ginge Jensen||Denmark||243||184||213||198||215||235||1288||48||1336|
|6||Marcial Ovide Marron||Catalonia||230||207||259||209||212||212||1329||0||1329|
|7||Moi Perez Ibañez||Catalonia||178||214||237||244||252||198||1323||0||1323|
|15||Jaroslav Lorenc||Czech Republic||224||207||232||177||205||222||1267||0||1267|
|20||Artur Colomer Soler||Catalonia||192||209||233||171||209||219||1233||0||1233|