The unique pairing of two-time PBA Tour champion Ronnie Russell and rapper/hip-hop star French Montana teamed up to win the sixth CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational presented by Bowlmor AMF at AMF Bowl-O-Drome in a traditional Super Bowl Sunday special event presented by PBA.
In a dramatic comeback performance in the Baker doubles format championship match seen on ESPN, the Russell and Montana team defeated two-time champions Paul and his partner, two-time reigning PBA Player of the Year Jason Belmonte, 150-139, for the title.
Paul and Belmonte, who were paired up as the result of both players finishing first in their respective one-ball Celebrity and PBA Super Clash rounds, earned a bye directly into the championship match. They jumped out to the early lead by marking in the first three frames with Russell and Montana opening in the first and third frames.
Russell and Montana found their stride, however, striking in the next three frames while the Paul/Belmonte duo opened in three of four frames evening the match. In the ninth frame, Russell and Montana held a two-pin lead with Russell making a spare and nine count on the fill ball in the 10th to force Belmonte to double in his 10th frame for the win. The Australian two-handed player fell short, leaving the 3-6.
“I left it in the hands of God,” said Montana. “As the game went on, we collaborated - I helped Ronnie out and he helped me out. I was trying to learn from him (Russell).
“It’s been five years since I last bowled, but I have to start bowling again because I hope I can come back and defend the title next year.”
Going into the event, Russell was just planning to have a good time and wasn’t really worried about the end result but he found things got serious as the show went on.
“I just wanted to enjoy the experience but it got competitive, believe me,” Russell said. “I didn’t know what our chances were going to be but I think we had to be considered a longshot.
“When we got to the championship match it was going to be a challenge for Jason and I because the lanes were pretty fried after all the bowling we had done in the preliminary rounds. I think French probably had the best shot because he was just trying to keep it in play by throwing it down the middle.”
Hosted by L.A. Clippers star and bowling enthusiast Chris Paul, the 2015 edition of the CP3 Foundation fundraiser featured other celebrities including comedian/radio and television personality Nick Cannon, comedian/talk-show/podcast personality Chris Hardwick (the son of the late PBA Hall of Famer Billy Hardwick), former NFL All-Pro receiver Terrell Owens, who starred in this season’s Celebrity Apprentice, and Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams.
In addition to Russell, the PBA Tour field included the four other PBA World Championship finalists, winner Mike Fagan, Wes Malott, Stuart Williams and Todd Book, along with Hall of Famer Pete Weber, Sean Rash, Chris Barnes and Bill O’Neill.
The Russell and Montana pairing advanced from the semifinal shootout round with a 193 game, out-scoring Hardwick and Barnes (188) and Rash and Cannon (123).
The telecast started with the Celebrity Super Clash round featuring all six celebrities bowling a one-ball eliminator competition where the bowler with the lowest pinfall is eliminated. The PBA players also bowled a one-ball PBA Super Clash which determined the top four PBA/Celebrity doubles pairings.
Chris Paul CP3 Celebrity Invitational Winners
2015 – Ronnie Russell/French Montana
2013 – Chris Barnes/Chris Hardwick
2012 – Pete Weber/Jerry Ferrara/Blake Griffin
2011 – Jason Belmonte/Chris Paul
2010 – Jason Belmonte/Chris Paul
2009 – Jason Couch/LeBron James