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‘Merica Rooster Illusion wins PBA Team Challenge title


After scratching its way into the championship round, the team calling itself ‘Merica Rooster Illusion threw nine strikes on 10 attempts to win the Professional Bowlers Association Team Challenge at the South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas Tuesday.

The 2016 PBA Team champions. From left Ronnie Russell, Rhino Page, Chris Loschetter, Marshall Kent and E.J. Tackett.

2016PBATeamChallengeBFFsSliderThe team, named after a reference found in the movie “Tropical Thunder,” knocked off The BFFs (pictured), the top qualifying team composed of veteran international players Dom Barrett and Stuart Williams of England, Martin Larsen and Jesper Svensson of Sweden, and Finland’s Osku Palermaa, 498-452, in the two-game, total pinfall final game. ‘Merica locked it up with its strike barrage in a 264-232 clinching game.

“We’re a team of journeymen and young guys, all of whom can throw strikes when you need them,” team captain Ronnie Russell said.

Russell, who won his fourth career PBA Tour title along with a share of a $30,000 first prize, was joined by former PBA Rookies of the Year Marshall Kent (2014), E.J. Tackett (2013), Rhino Page (2008) and veteran Chris Loschetter, who bowled after being cleared by doctors in his battle with cancer.

“It really wasn’t about Losch and cancer,” Tackett said. “Losch is Losch. He doesn’t change, but when he got cleared to bowl, that’s what we wanted to do for him. To get a win after what he’s been through really makes it special.”

Loschetter, who earned his second PBA Tour title, also took it in stride. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer just before the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VII in Reno last December, had surgery, and thought he was cleared until the cancer resurfaced in his abdomen during the summer. After another bout of chemo, he was declared clear in early October.

“It definitely makes you appreciate life,” the Avon, Ohio resident said. “Getting another title? Yeah, that’s cool.”

The PBA Team Challenge is a one-of-a-kind five-player team competition for the sport’s most talented players. It was conduct as part of the South Point Bowling Plaza Fall Classic.

In the first match in the two-game, total pinfall Baker format stepladder finals, ‘Merica Rooster Illusion defeated Playin’ With House Money (Josh Blanchard, Dino Castillo, D.J. Archer, Shawn Maldonado and Tom Daugherty), 508-488. The difference proved to be Archer’s 10 pin in the eighth frame, ending a deadlock when Rooster Illusion closed the match with six consecutive strikes.

‘Merica Rooster Illusion then broke open a five-pin match with a string of six consecutive strikes to win the semifinal match, 482-452, eliminating the highly-regarded all-star team, One College POY and You Know the Rest (Chris Barnes, Bill O’Neill, Tommy Jones, Wes Malott and Jason Belmonte). The “POY” team represented a combined total of 64 PBA titles, by far the most in the entire 20-team tournament field.

PBA members will now join many of the sport’s top amateur players in the U.S. Open which begins Friday at the South Point Bowling Plaza. All qualifying and match play rounds of the U.S. Open will be covered live, exclusively on PBA’s online video-streaming service, Xtra Frame, leading up to the live CBS Sports Network stepladder finals on Tuesday, Nov. 8, at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT).

In addition to its normal coverage, Xtra Frame’s coverage also will include bonus coverage of featured groups of players on its new XF2 channel. For details, click here.

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2016 PBA Team Challenge – Stepladder Finals

South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas, Nev. USA (Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2016)

Championship Round:
1, ‘Merica Rooster Illusion (Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash.; Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio; Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind.; E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind.; Rhino Page, Orlando, Fla.), $30,000
2, The BFFs (Dom Barrett, England; Martin Larsen, Sweden; Osku Palermaa, Finland; Stuart Williams, England; Jesper Svensson, Sweden), $16,000
3, One College POY & the Rest You Know (Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas; Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa.; Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C.; Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas; Jason Belmonte, Australia), $12,000
4, Playin’ with House Money (D.J. Archer, Friendswood, Texas; Josh Blanchard, Mesa, Ariz.; Dino Castillo, Highland Village, Texas; Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla.; Shawn Maldonado, Houston), $8,000

Playoff Results (Baker format, two games total pinfall):
First Match: No. 4 ‘Merica Rooster Illusion (239-269) def.
No. 3 Playin’ with House Money (230-258), 508-488
Semifinal Match: ‘Merica Rooster Illusion (224-258) def.
No. 2 One College POY and the Rest You Know (209-243), 482-452
Championship: ‘Merica Rooster Illusion (234-264) def.
No. 1 The BFFs (220-232), 498-452.

2016 PBA Team Challenge – Final Match Play Standings

Teams with match play record, 52-game total, including 50 bonus pins for each Baker format, two-game total pinfall match won, and average; top 4 advance to the stepladder finals.

1. The BFF’s, 4-2, 12,611, 229.83
2. One College POY & the Rest You Know, 3-3-0, 12,594, 230.44
3. Playin’ with House Money, 3-3, 12,403, 226.91
4. ‘Merica Rooster Illusion, 4-2, 12,400, 225.93

5. Team Brunswick (Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J.; Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y.; Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill.; Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich.; Walter Ray Williams Jr., Oxford, Fla.), 2-4, 12,392, 227.63, $4,500
6, Dead Money (Alex Cavagnaro, Massapequa, N.Y.; w-Danielle McEwan, Stony Point, N.Y.; Matt McNiel, Minneapolis; Matt O’Grady, Matawa, N.J.; Anthony Pepe, Elmhurst, N.Y.), 2-4, 12,177, 223.65, $4,500

Baker Format Team 300 games (4) – Dead Money (2), ‘Merica Rooster Illusion, Almost All College Grads.

Herbert Bickel

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