PHILIPPINE bowling is near to being unnoticed on the global stage after the Paeng Nepomuceno era until Krizziah Lyn Tabora rose from her own struggles in international play to win this year’s Qubica AMF Bowling World Cup.
Tabora beat Malaysia’s Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman, 232-196, in the stepladder finals in Hermosillo, Mexico to post the biggest career triumph and the Philippines’ best finish in the World Cup in 14 years.
Tabora’s win was a surprise for the sport globally, what with the rise of Malaysians, Qataris, Japanese and Koreans as superpowers from Asia. But the surprise is also local, with the Philippines not having even a gold medal to show in the Southeast Asian Games and the Asian Games in the past seven years —and these are tournaments the country has a winning streak historically.
In Hermosillo, the 26-year-old Tabora placed third in the 40-game qualifying rounds with 8,799 (average: 219.97) behind defending champion Jenny Wagner of Sweden who even posted a perfect 300 game.
Among the top eight bowlers, Tabora posted six wins and two losses to lead the eight-woman pack and reach the stepladder semifinals. There, Tabora beat Rocio Restrepo of Colombia, 249-222 while Rahman upset Wagner, 227-197, in the other semifinal.
Christian Suarez was the last Filipino to win a Bowling World Cup in 2003. But Tabora’s victory was the first for a Filipina since Olivia “Bong Coo” Garcia in 1979.
Tabora has not won a single’s championship on the international scene as her gold medals, at the 2014 Asian Inter-City Bowling Championships, are in women’s doubles and team of five.
Prior to Hermosillo, Tabora was part of a five-woman Philippine team that won a silver in the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) last September. In 2016, she was ranked only 28th in Asia, with compatriots Liza del Rosario and Lara Posadas ranking higher than her in the region.
Philippine bowling has not had any major international triumph lately, and four-time World Cup titlist Nepomuceno even reached retirement and became the national coach. Bowling tournaments locally are not even as newsy lately as the heydays of former World Cup champions Nepomuceno, Coo, Litas dela Rosa and former 1988 Seoul Olympic Games gold medalist Arianne Cerdena.
Suarez won the World Cup in Tegucigalpa, Honduras in 2003. But after representing the country in the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Suarez left the sport due to politics in the Philippine Bowling Federation and became an overseas worker. Leadership disputes, typical of Philippine national sports associations, and an observed lack of a successor generation program beyond Nepomuceno hobbled the sport, not to mention the closing of bowling centers and the trimming down of local bowling clubs according to a newspaper report.
Apart from the Bowling World Cup sponsored by bowling equipment manufacturer Quibca AMF, there is also the World Tenpin Bowling Championships. Engelberto “Biboy” Rivera won the master’s event gold medal at the 2006 World Tenpin Bowling Championships in Busan, Korea. Three years earlier, in Kuala Lumpur, del Rosario teamed up with Liza Clutario and Cecilia Yap to win that year’s WTBA ladies’ trios gold medal in comebackungg fashion.
Yet the Bowling World Cup has national eliminations to decide a country’s male and female representatives.
The last time the Philippines won a major bowling tournament overseas was Rivera’s gold medal at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. Rivera and del Rosario posted the most recent best finish by the Philippines at the BWC: both placing fifth in 2014.
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