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Malaysia’s Rafiq Ismail averages 260 to lead top 16 into the Group Phase

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Rafiq Ismail averaged over 260 for eight games in the second round of the Brunswick Ballmaster Open in Helsinki, Finland, to lead the top 16 players into the group phase at Tali bowling center.

The 20-year-old Malaysian national team member (pictured right and above) got off to a solid start in the high-scoring round with 234, 258 and 215 and closed with five huge games of 279, 267, 279, 276 and 279 (1380; 276 ave.) for 2087 total and an overall average of 260.88.

As Round 2 pinfall will carry forward, Ismail has a 29-pin cushion over two-time Ballmaster winner Kimmo Lehtonen (left) of Finland (2002 and 2007), who was second with 2058 (257.25) after finishing with 279, 278 and 289 (846; 282 ave.).

There was a bigger gap between second and third place, which belonged to Jesper Svensson (right) of Sweden. The two-handed lefty, who at the age of 22 owns eight European Bowling Tour titles along with seven Professional Bowlers Association titles, toppled 1977 pins, an average of 247.13.

Sin Li Jane (left) of Malaysia was the best woman in the round in fourth place with 1935, including eight pins handicap each game. Fellow Professional Women’s Bowling Association champion Danielle McEwan, USA, was 62 pins back to sit in fifth place with 1883, including handicap.

Cherie Tan (right) is the third woman, who reached the group phase, after finishing in eighth place with 1863, including handicap.

Despite finishing his set with a 169 game, 16-year-old qualifying leader Jesse Ahokas, of Finland took the 16th and last spot to advance with 1798 and an average of 224.75.

Notables failing to advance include Timmy Tan, Malaysia, who had three 300 games in qualifying; 2017 EBT women’s point ranking leader Jenny Wegner, Sweden; 13-time EBT and 5-time PBA champion Osku Palermaa, Finland; PBA and USBC Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III, USA; 2017 Ballmaster Open champion Daphne Tan, Singapore, and three-time Ballmaster champion (2000, ’04 & ’09) Pasi Uotila (right), Finland.

The top 16 players will be seeded into two groups according to their positions to bowl seven games of round robin match play. Round 2 pins carry over. During match play, players receive 30 bonus pins for winning a match and 15 pins each in the event of a tie. The top two players in each group advance to the semi-finals.

Photos courtesy of Seija Lankinen.

The 48th Brunswick Ballmaster Open will be held from January 5-14 at 36-lane Tali Bowling Center in Helsinki, the capital and largest city of Finland.

Other than last year, when the BBO was a “platinum” level tournament, the 48th edition of the prestigious event is one of two “gold” events this season, the second highest of five EBT categories (satellite, bronze, silver, gold and platinum).

The BBO offers total prize money of 83.700 Euro, including all extra prizes, with 10.000 Euro going to the winner, 6.000 Euro to the runner-up and 4.000 Euro apiece to the third and fourth place finishers. Low to cash is 48th place, worth 800 Euro.

The tournament offers 3.000 Euro for the first 300 game, or for the highest game if there will be no 300 game.

Qualifying (six games, unlimited re-entries) ran from Friday, Jan. 5, through Saturday, Jan. 13, and concluded with the one-game Desperado Squad. Total 48 players qualified for the finals. The top 12 qualifiers receive a first-round bye.

The other 36 finalists bowled six games starting from scratch with the top 24 advancing to the second round. Those 24 join the top 12 qualifiers to bowl eight games starting from scratch.

The top 16 players will be seeded into two groups according to their positions: Group A (1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13 and 16) and Group B (2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14 and 15). Round 2 pins carry over. The group phase features seven games of round robin match play (no position round). During match play, players receive 30 bonus pins for winning a match and 15 pins each in the event of a tie.

The 15-game totals, including all bonus pins, will determine the top two players in each group who advance to the semi-finals (B1 vs. A2 and A1 vs. B2). The semi-final winners will bowl for the title (all one-game head-to-head matches).

Women receive 8 pins handicap each game (up to 292 – maximum score is 300), an equality handicap provided to women in all EBT events.

The 2018 European Bowling Tour features 13 tournaments in 10 countries including two “platinum”, two “gold”, three “silver”, three “bronze” and three “satellite” events, which will offer total prize fund of more than 560.000 Euro.

The top 50 men and the top 50 women in each event receive ranking points. Those points will be tabulated throughout the season to determine the top 8 men and top 8 women, who will be eligible to compete in the 12th EBT Masters July 8, 2019 at Bowling Chamartín in Madrid, Spain.

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Top 16 advance to the group phase. Group A (1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13 and 16) and Group B (2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14 and 15). Round 2 pins carry over.

Author: Herbert Bickel
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