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James Gruffman averages over 240 to lead men’s qualifying at European Champions Cup

James Gruffman of Sweden averaged 245.50 for eight games to take the lead in the men’s division at the 39th European Champions Cup after the first of two qualifying blocks.

Pictured above are the top 3 men of squad A: L-R Erich Pisarski, James Gruffman and Valentyn Kucherenko.

2016ECCJamesGruffmanGruffman (right), who won the ECC in Zoetermeer, Netherlands, in 2012, bowled in squad A on Thursday evening and registered games of 254, 217, 266, 259, 258, 222, 269 and 219 for 1964 pinfall total.

The Swede remained atop the 40-player leaderboard after the bowlers of B squad have completed their eight-game block Thursday morning at Bowland Bowling Center in Olomouc, Czech Republic.

Gruffman withstood a charge from Jaroslav Lorenc, who finished the first block in second just ten pins behind. Representing the host country, Lorenc started B squad with a huge 279 game but fell behind due to a low 188 second game. Lorenc rebounded with 238, 258, 238, 260, 257 and 236 and 1954 total, an average of 244.25.

2016ECCValentynKucherenkoValentyn Kucherenko (left) of Ukraine and Erich Pisarski of Hungary, who were second and third in squad A, slipped one spot to third and fourth place, respectively. Kucherenko was just six pins behind Lorenc with 1948 (243.50), including five games between 200 and 247, and high games of 258, 267 and 268.

2016ECCErichPisarskiPisarski (right) was the best of seven players, who reached the 1800-plateau, with 1895 (236.88), including a 289, the highest game of the tournament so far.

Joining Pisarski in the 1800-club were Mark Jacobs, Netherlands (5th; 1870), Jesper Agerbo, Denmark (6th; 1859), Antonino Fiorentino, Italy (7th; 1835), Hadley Morgan, England (8th; 1816), Jimmy Ravez, Belgium (9th; 1808) and Arnar David Jonsson, Iceland (10th; 1801).

Jacobs and Jonsson were next to Lorenc in squad A. As qualifying has reached the halfway mark, Sergei Rogov of Russia held the 16th and final spot to advance to the next stage with 1727 or an average of 215.88.

The 40 men from 39 countries will return on Friday for the second qualifying block before the cut to the top 16. A squad will take to the lanes at 9 a.m. Central European Summer Time (CEST) and B squad will conclude qualifying starting at 1.30 p.m.

2016ECCLogoThe 39th European Champions Cup will take place from October 24-31 at 18-lane Bowland Bowling Center in Olomouc, Czech Republic featuring the men’s and women’s national champions or point ranking leaders of the European Tenpin Bowling Federation (ETBF) member federations.

Men and women compete in separate divisions. All players, including defending ECC champions, Maria Bulanova of Russia and Joonas Jähi of Finland, will roll two eight-game blocks of qualifying Wednesday through Friday on a 42 feet lane conditioning pattern.

The top 16 men and 16 women will carry over their qualifying pins into Round 1. After another eight games the top 8 will advance to Round 2. Pinfall will continue to carry over. Those 8 will bowl four more games to cut to the top 4 who will determine the champion in best-of-three games matches. In the semi-finals, No. 1 will meet No. 4 and No. 2 will take on No. 3.

Full European Champions Cup rules can be found in the ETBF Constitution (Chapter 7; pages 47 and 48). For more details on the 39th ECC 2016 read the Bulletin.

Photos Max Bulanov.

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