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Paeng steers Philippines back to world tilt

Paeng Nepomuceno

MANILA, Philippines –  In his coaching debut, four-time World Cup bowling champion Paeng Nepomuceno presided in the Philippine campaign at the recent 24th Asian Tenpin Championships in Hongkong and piloted both the men and women squads to qualify for the World Championships in Kuwait in December next year.

There were 135 men and 65 women who participated in the Hongkong eliminations. Only 12 slots were available for countries under the Asian Bowling Federation. The Philippines made the men’s cut-off by finishing ninth while the women qualified by landing sixth. The qualifying norm took into account the highest all-events scores in 24 games of the top five male and top five female bowlers of each country.

The Philippine men’s team was made up of Kenneth Chua, Kevin Oliver Cu, Enzo Hernandez, Ivan Malig, Niccolo Olaivar and Merwin Tan while the women’s squad was composed of Liza del Rosario, Lara Posadas, Krizziah Tabora, Liza Clutario, Dyan Coronacion and Maria Lourdes Arles. Nepomuenco’s coaching staff listed Biboy Rivera, Jojo Canare and Rey Reyes.

The 24 countries that competed in Hongkong were Australia, China, North Korea, Egypt, Guam, Hongkong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Kuwait, Macau, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan. The world bowling federation recognizes only three geographical zones – the Americas, Europe and Asia.

It will mark the Philippines’ first return for men and women to the World Championships since the Kuala Lumpur edition in 2003. That year, the women’s trio of Del Rosario, Clutario and Cecilia Yap took the gold as Clutario bagged the women’s masters silver and the women’s all-events bronze. From 2005, the World Championships were held separately for men and women every two years. The Philippine women’s team participated in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011 while the men competed in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

Rivera took the men’s masters gold at the 2006 World Championships in Busan. In 2013, the world bowling federation brought back the combined format of the World Championships. The qualifying event for the Asian zone was the 22nd Asian Championships in Hongkong. Only the Philippine women’s team qualified for the 2013 World Championships in Henderson, Nevada.

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Nepomuceno, 59, said the future is bright for Philippine bowling and cited four youthful male bowlers who played at the recent Asian Championships – Tan, 17, Malig, 18, Hernandez, 20 and Chua, 24. “We will be conducting new eliminations in November to choose the 2017 national pool members,” he said. “I’m happy to be able to give back to the sport that I love and to serve our country. I want to help bring back the glory days of bowling.”

Nepomuceno, who won four World Cup trophies in three separate decades, said he’s moved on from competitor to mentor. “I have nothing more to prove as a player,” he said. “I’m turning 60 next year. I have three Guinness world records which are all unbroken. My life-size likeness is in the entrance of the International Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum in Arlington, Texas. The dream of every successful athlete is to be enshrined in his sport’s Hall of Fame and it’s a bonus that my image was chosen to be at the entrance.”

Nepomuceno said from his experience, there is no short cut to becoming a champion. “The one thing I want to impart to my bowlers is to have a strong mental game and have a vision to put into action,” he said. “I want to impart the values of hard work, determination and discipline which were the keys to my success as an athlete.”

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