San Antonio, Texas-based 900 Global pulled off the biggest upset in the five-year history of the Lumber
Liquidators PBA Tour’s summer series special events, winning the Manufacturers Cup to conclude the GEICO PBA Team Shootout at 10pin bowling lounge in Downtown Chicago.
The finals of the annual summer-season team competition aired Sunday on ESPN, capping a series of 15 half-hour programs.
Sparked by anchor bowler Steve Jaros of suburban Yorkville, IL, No. 4-seeded 900 Global defeated Brunswick, 206-194; defending champion Storm Products, 258-255, and top-seeded Ebonite International, 215-191, for a three-match sweep of the Baker Team format stepladder finals.
“Our new name is Team Bottom Feeders,” said 900 Global’s Robert Smith. “That’s what we looked like for the first 12 matches. We were our own rally-killers.”
“We couldn’t get anything going in the preliminary matches,” Jaros said. “But we figured if we could manage our TV lane the right way and make good shots, we could get the job done and that’s what happened. For whatever reason, the other teams kept putting us on the left lane and that’s the lane we would have chosen if we had been able to pick the one we wanted.”
In the Baker Team finals, each team bowled its entire game on one lane. Each player bowled two frames to complete a game. Because 900 Global was the lowest seeded team in the finals, its opponent had the right to select the lane it preferred – and all three opposing teams opted to bowl on the right lane.
“During the stepladder finals, we got relaxed, got the momentum and rode it,” Smith said. “It was fun to get more than two strikes in a row.”
In the opening stepladder match against Brunswick, 900 Global alternated strikes and spares until the seventh and eighth frames, when 2011 USBC Queens champion and two-time PBA Regional title winner Missy Parkin – the only woman in the event – and Smith finally posted back-to-back strikes. That double proved to be the difference.
In the semifinal match against the powerful Storm Products team, Storm’s Pete Weber, Ryan Shafer, Wes Malott, Norm Duke and Jason Belmonte all struck to take a 30-pin lead after five frames, but 900 Global answered with a string of seven strikes, including a decisive double by Jaros on his first two shots in the 10th frame that decided the match.
With momentum on their side, Michael Haugen Jr., Parkin, Smith and PBA Hall of Famer Brian Voss struck to give 900 Global a 47-pin lead after four frames against Ebonite International.
Ebonite put together a four-strike string of its own late in the game, but couldn’t overcome three earlier open frames.
“We decided to stay on the same lane where we shot 290 the day before with the same lineup,” said Ebonite International coach Jason Couch.
“We just didn’t bowl very well and (900 Global) bowled a really good game.”
“I’m as excited for 900 Global as I am for myself,” Parkin beamed after throwing four strikes and converting two single-pin spares in six attempts during the three games.
“Normally throwing the ball harder is my A game, but I found out after the first doubles match that throwing it hard and straight wasn't going to work, especially bowling with the guys. I had to keep the speed down so the ball would roll sooner and get the corner pins out, and it worked.”
“Even though this wasn’t as intense of a competition as regular Tour events, it was for bragging rights among the ball manufacturers,” Haugen added.
“And of course you always want to win. We don’t have team competition on Tour, so that was fun, too. It’s nice to share the win with teammates.
“Being fourth in the finals, we had our work cut out for us,” Haugen said, “but you could tell we had good team chemistry. We made all the right moves when we needed to. We had the talent and we had the equipment to get it done.”
“After a frustrating day and a half, it was a great way to end things,” Voss, a PBA Hall of Famer, noted. “We got some help from (Ebonite’s) slow start, but we got it going, too. I love to win. It’s very cool.”
The GEICO PBA Team Shootout preliminary matches included singles, best ball doubles, alternate shot doubles, Baker team and “eliminator” formats where each team earned points to determine the stepladder finals positions.
At the conclusion of 12 matches, Ebonite International and Storm were tied for first place. Ebonite/Hammer’s Bill O’Neill won a one-ball roll-off with a strike to claim the No. 1 seed after Storm’s Belmonte left an 8-10 split. The preliminary matches produced other highlights, including:
● Storm’s Shafer fired a 300 game in his singles match against Ebonite/ Columbia 300’s Chris Barnes, Brunswick’s Chris Loschetter and 900 Global’s Parkin, and teamed up with Belmonte to shoot another 300 game in their best ball doubles match against Barnes and O’Neill, who shot 280 in a losing cause.
● After Barnes’ first-frame spare, Ebonite International rattled off 11 strikes in a row for a Baker Team 290 game in Match 7.
● In a showcase alternate shot doubles match between Storm and Brunswick stars, PBA Hall of Famers Weber and Duke teamed up to bowl a 244-244 tie against Parker Bohn III, another PBA Hall of Famer, and Sean Rash.
● A flare-up between Brunswick’s Rash and Storm’s Belmonte over a plastic water bottle-crinkling episode during the Eliminator match. The entire GEICO PBA Team Shootout series will be re-broadcast on ESPN2. Multiple half-hour shows will air on Saturday, July 9 at 1 p.m.; Sunday, July 17 at 1 p.m.; Saturday, July 23 at noon; Sunday, July 24 at 1:30 p.m.; Sunday, July 31 at 2 p.m., and Saturday, Aug. 6 at 1 p.m. All times are Eastern.