TOKYO, Japan – Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer Amleto Monacelli ended an 11-year PBA Tour title drought and became the 14th player to win 20 PBA Tour titles when he defeated top qualifier Dom Barrett of England, 255-233, to win the DHC PBA Japan Invitational at Tokyo Port Bowl.
The finals aired Sunday on ESPN2.
“Japan has always been a great atmosphere for me,” the 54-year-old Monacelli said. “That’s where my career really got started. It felt like it was the late 1980s, when I could do something no one else could do. A lot of things were different, but I believe it was as good a performance as I’ve ever had.”
Monacelli, who began his PBA career in 1982, made 16 television finals and finished second seven times before winning his first title in the 1987 Japan Cup. He went on to win PBA Player of the Year honors in 1989 and 1990, and became the first international player inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 1997. He is now dividing time between the PBA Tour and the PBA50 Tour, where he has won five titles including three major championships.
His lengthy title slump in PBA Tour competition, he admits, has nothing to do with his legendary physical fitness routine and everything to do with his “stubbornness” in adapting to the changing competitive environment in professional bowling.
“I’ve been looking for a title for a long time,” he said. “It wasn’t because I was performing bad, but over the last three years I’ve got a lot more knowledge about the equipment and moving on the lanes, and that has given me an advantage along with my physical shape, which I’ve worked on my whole life.
“When I was bowling before all of this new equipment, it was more about how you performed – throw the ball harder, throw it softer, move around, change hand positions. Now it’s more about what ball to throw and when to throw it. You can perform well, but you have to have the right equipment, too. In Japan, I had the right ball at the right time to get a reaction no one else had.”
Monacelli earned his shot at the DHC PBA Japan Invitational title with a 275-221 win over defending champion Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, in the semifinal match. Barnes, returning to PBA competition for the first time since undergoing surgery in early October to repair a damaged disc in his back, started the stepladder finals with a 227-220 win over Japan’s Shota Kawazoe followed by a 232-202 victory over John Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda, N.Y.
The PBA Tour’s 2016 season kicks into high gear Tuesday with the first of three consecutive major championships, all of which will be televised live on ESPN on consecutive Sundays. The FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions kicks off the series, Feb. 2-7 at FireLake Bowling Center and FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Okla. The TOC will be followed by the United States Bowling Congress Masters Feb. 9-14 at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis, and the Barbasol PBA Players Championship Feb. 16-21 at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl in Columbus, Ohio. The TOC airs at 2 p.m. ET; the Masters and Players Championship air at 1 p.m. ET.
All qualifying and match play rounds of the three majors will be covered live on PBA’s exclusive online bowling channel, Xtra Frame. For subscription details, visit pba.com and click on the Xtra Frame link.
DHC PBA JAPAN INVITATIONAL
Tokyo Port Bowl, Tokyo, Japan (finals conducted Jan. 17, aired Jan. 31 on ESPN2)
1, Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, $40,000. 2, Dom Barrett, England, $20,000. 3, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, $10,400. 4, John Szczerbinski, North Tonawanda, N.Y., $8,100. 5, Shota Kawazoe, Japan, $7,300.
Match One – Barnes def. Kawazoe, 227-220. Match Two – Barnes def. Szczerbinski, 232-202. Semifinal Match – Monacelli def. Barnes, 275-221. Championship – Monacelli def. Barrett, 255-233.