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Bowling News USA - January 20, 2013 Mika, Tommy Jones Win Titles in Japan...

Finnish native Mika Koivuniemi won his second Round1 Japan Cup and a $71,700 first prize at Round1 Stadium Diver City Tokyo Plaza Bowling Center with a 268-164 victory over Japan’s Yoshihiro Kaji, denying Kaji’s bid to become the first Japanese player to win the event in 24 years.

The 45-year-old Koivuniemi, wearing glasses for the first time in a championship round, started the title match with eight strikes before a 10 pin in the ninth frame ended his bid for a 300 game. The finals aired Sunday on ESPN.

“I got glasses about two years ago and started to practice with them, but I didn't like them at all,” the Hartland, Mich., resident said. “I bowled a couple of games in the 180s with them on, so I took them off and shot a 300 game. After that I didn’t even try them again in competition. I just wore them when I was driving at night.

“I told my wife I would start wearing them after I won my 10th title, but after I screwed up a couple of times during the World Series of Bowling, I decided to try them again and they felt ok. So I decided to test my luck and I bowled with them on in Japan.

“It worked,” he said with a laugh.

Kaji started the title match with back-to-back open frames and never had a chance after that. Takeo Sakai (1988) and Ken Taniguchi (1985) are the only Japanese bowlers who have won the Japan Cup.

Koivuniemi made it into the championship match by winning a sudden death roll-off against reigning PBA Player of the Year Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., in one of the season’s most exciting matches. Rash converted the 2-10 split in the ninth frame and threw three strikes in the 10th to force Koivuniemi to mark in his 10th frame for the winner.

Koivuniemi, however, left the 4-9 split and got one pin for a 223-223 tie. In the one-ball sudden death roll-off, both players threw strikes on their first two shots, and both left a single pin on their third attempts before Koivuniemi struck while Rash left a 9 pin on their fourth shots.

PBA Tour coverage on ESPN continues next Sunday with the live debut of PBA League competition from Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park, Mich., at noon ET. The two-hour live event will feature five five-man teams bowling in a Baker team format stepladder final.

In a title match between two PBA Player of the Year, Tommy Jones defeated Sean Rash, 209-204, to defend his title in the International Bowling Championships 2013 supported by DHC, a World Bowling Tour "major", en route to win the six million Yen top prize. 

Due to an agreement between the World Tenpin Bowling Association, organizer of the World Bowling Tour, and the Professional Bowlers Association, the IBC awarded a PBA international title if won by a PBA member. 

It was the 14th career PBA title, the third in Japan, and another big payday for Jones, who earned the PBA Player of the Year Award for 2005-06 after leading the Tour with $301,700, the third-highest single season earnings of all-time. 

Jones would have to win all five tournaments of the PBA Winter Swing later this month to win nearly the same money has he did this week. 

Jones, who was the top seed for the men's finals, and Rash were joined in the TV Eliminator finals by 16-year-old Malaysian shooting star, Rafiq Ismail, former PBA Player of the Year, Chris Barnes, United States and Hiroki Suzuki of Japan. 

All five players bowled one game with the lowest two players eliminated. The remaining three players bowled a second game with the lowest player eliminated. The two survivors then bowled for the title and the six million Yen first prize.

In the opening five-player shoot-out match, the young Malaysian came out of the gates commandingly by connecting for the first seven strikes. His quest for the record 10 million Yen for a 300 game in the TV Eliminator Finals was spoiled by a 10-pin in the eight frame. Ismail doubles in the ninth and tenth frame for 268. 

Jones took the second spot as he struck eight times after a spare in the first frame. He left a 3-4-6-7-10 combination in the tenth, which he converted into a spare to finish with 261. 

Reigning WTBA World Champion and 14-time PBA champion Barnes was surprisingly the first player out. Barnes fell behind early after an open frame in fifth and suffered back-to-back open frames in the eighth and ninth, which seal his fate. Barnes finished fifth with 180 and pocketed 600,000 Yen. 

Suzuki, who was 10 pins ahead of Rash heading into the six frame, opened twice behind big splits in the eighth (4-7-10) and tenth frame (7-10) to finish with 190. Rash struck in the seventh, eighth and ninth frame en route to shut out Suzuki with 215. The Japanese bowler earned 800,000 for fourth place. 

In the semifinal match, experience beat youth. Rash struck on five of his first six shots to take the early lead. As Jones was unable to strike on the right lane, he alternated strikes and spares in his first six frame, he still led Ismail, who opened in his second frame. The youngster, however, rebounded with three strikes in frames 4-6 to overtake Jones by three pins. 

Jones then got his fourth consecutive strike on the left lane, while the Malaysian got a 7-10 split in his seventh frame which resulted in an open. 

He didn't throw a perfect shot in the eight but got away with it, registered his first strike on the right lane, and added two more strikes to shut out Ismail with 229, who doubled after the split but went out with 200. The lefty will return back home with 1.5 million Yen. 

Deja-vu for Jones in the title match as he alternated spares and strikes for the first six frames. This time he struck on the right lane and converted three spares on the left lane to trail Rash by nine pins. Both players doubled in the sixth and seventh frame and spared in the eighth frame. 

Finishing first and leading by eight pins, Rash had his fate in his own hands. He could shut out Jones or force him to throw a double with two clean frames or a double in the tenth ….. instead he left a 7-10 split in the ninth frame for an open and missed the head pin on the first shot in the last frame. 

After converting the spare and finishing with a strike for 204, Rash had to sit and watch Jones easily converting and single-pin spare (4) and throwing one last strike for a five-pin victory. The reigning PBA Player of the Year, who was looking for his sixth PBA title, was consoled for his runner-up finish with 3 million Yen. 


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January, 2013