RENO, Nev. (Dec. 10, 2017) – The five leading American qualifiers in PBA World Championship pinfall during the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IX presented by Eldorado Resorts Reno Properties combined for 20 clean frames and 18 strikes in 24 attempts to sweep the best-of-two-game USA vs. The World team competition, kicking off ESPN’s coverage of the 2017-18 Go Bowling! PBA Tour schedule Sunday.
The USA team, captained by PBA Hall of Famer and 22-time PBA Tour champion Marshall Holman, included PBA Tour champions Kyle Troup, Bill O’Neill, Ryan Ciminelli, Tom Smallwood and PBA regional winner Matt McNiel. Making up The World team, captained by England’s Stuart Williams, were PBA Tour winners Jason Belmonte of Australia, Jesper Svensson of Sweden, Dom Barrett of England, Thomas Larsen of Denmark and 20-year-old newcomer Rafiq Ismail of Malaysia.
In what could be considered the all-star event of WSOB IX, players earned their spots on their respective teams based on their finishing positions after 40 games of qualifying in the PBA Chameleon Championship presented by Reno Tahoe, Shark Championship presented by Xtra Frame, Cheetah Championship presented by PBA Challenge Mobile Game and Pepsi Scorpion Championship presented by GoBowling.com.
In the first Baker format match contested at the National Bowling Stadium, where each player bowls two frames to combine for one score, the U.S. team took control with a 226-213 win when the World team couldn’t catch up after a missed 1-2-4-6-10 washout in the fifth frame by Barrett.
The USA completely dominated game two, combining for a 279 while The World managed only 191. Troup, O’Neill, McNiel and Ciminelli struck in the first four frames. Smallwood then converted a 10-pin spare in the fifth frame before the team closed out the victory with a string of seven consecutive strikes.
“We may have been the underdogs on paper but all these guys had the qualities you need to contribute to a great team effort,” said Holman. “I had a good idea of what lineup would work and went with my first instinct, but in reality, I could have put any lineup out there and we would have been in good shape.”
The USA vs. The World event was conducted on the 42-foot PBA Earl Anthony lane condition which was a neutral condition the players had not competed on in WSOB IX.
“In Baker team competition, especially on a new lane condition, communication is key,” said O’Neill, an eight-time PBA Tour winner. “With everyone’s break point being so different it can be difficult to get the reads so it was important that we were on the same page.
“Marshall put together a good lineup and then it was up to us to take it from there,” O’Neill added. “I think there was only one frame where we didn’t hit the pocket and we had a high strike percentage so the rest took care of itself.”
In 2016, the USA (Mitch Beasley, BJ Moore, Matt O’Grady, Dick Allen, EJ Tackett) beat The World (Sam Cooley, Barrett, Arturo Quintero, Francois Lavoie, Martin Larsen) in a one-frame roll-off after each team won one game.
WSOB IX action continues on ESPN Sunday, Dec. 17 with the Chameleon Championship at 1 p.m. ET followed immediately by the Shark Championship at 2 p.m.
USA vs. THE WORLD TEAM CHALLENGE
National Bowling Stadium Reno, Nev. (televised Sunday on ESPN)
(Best-of-two-game Baker format match)
Match One: USA (Kyle Troup, Bill O’Neill, Ryan Ciminelli, Matt NcNiel, Tom Smallwood) def. The World (Jason Belmonte, Jesper Svensson, Dom Barrett, Thomas Larsen, Rafiq Ismail), 226-213.
Match Two: USA def. The World, 279-191.