Friday, February 10, 2023 – Probowl Academy Bowling Center, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Charlie “Mama Char” Catbagan received his most memorable birthday gift in the form of claiming the men’s finals Gold medal in the Asian Intercity Bowling Championship hosted in the Probowl Academy Bowling Center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. MamaChar defeated James Walter Tarrobal of Paranaque, Philippines in the gold medal match two games to nil, with a nail biter in the final frame that enabled Catbagan to win his first ever championship title. Catbagan easily purged the strike zone during game 1 of the race to two sets bowling a tournament high 248 game to blank Tarrobal. However, the second game went the distance as Catbagan avoided a sudden death roll off striking on the tenth frame to edge the second seed Tarrobal by two sticks, 202-200. Catbagan entered the event as the 8th seed. In the first match, he slid by Marc Angelo Matias of Paranaque, Philippines tying the match at one-a-piece then working his way to a strike and nine count against Matias’ strike-seven. Catbagan needed another third game tie breaker to dispatch Pasay, Philippines’ John Abad in the quarter-finals. After beating the 7th seed in the first game 213-186, Catbagan ran into a road block as he bowled a 149 against Abad’s 184. Catbagan struck in the one-frame tie breaker as Abad only managed a nine count. Catbagan caught traction in the semi-final match ousting 4th seed Ho Yin Alex Yu of Hong Kong 223-189 and 192-177 to etch his name into the gold medal match.
In an event that folded two handed bowlers and relegated all others to throwing the most spare shots in their lifetime, the demanding, unpredictable lane pattern bode well for Guam’s contingent as they bowled their way to a silver medal in the Men’s Team Event and a bronze medal in the Women’s finals event.
The team of four consisting of Catbagan, Jeremiah Camacho, Aaron Elliott, and Cesar Villanueva opened the event with a tournament high 830 series which set the pace for the event. At the conclusion of the three-game event, the group settled for second place, 72 pins adrift from Paranaque, Philippines and qualified for the baker’s format top four playoff. In the first playoff match, Guam’s bowlers eliminated Hong Kong 211-188 to qualify for the gold medal match, while Macau beat Paranaque 202-167. Unfortunately, the demanding lanes took its toll on the Guam team as they were unable to find their footing losing to Macau 139-168 to end up with the silver.
Mae Rose Nauta became the first female from Guam to medal in the master event finals since 2012 winning a bronze medal. Nauta gutted it out in the first round as she managed to inch by 2nd seed Nurfadhlin Arisya Mohamad Ariff of Shah Alam, Malaysia winning game one through a tie breaking 174 game by an 8 to 7 count, then losing game two, 161-195, and pinning a nine count to Ariff’s seven in the match tie breaker. Her next match was against top seed Lara Posadas Wong of Paranaque, Philippines were she took it to the number one bowler of the event winning straight games of 193-168 and 180-177 to enter the medal round. With the opportunity to move on to the gold medal round, Nauta felt the jitters falling in game one to Singapore’s Lim Shi En 136-180, however, a shift in momentum occurred as Lim was unable to find a line in game two and fell to 15th seed Nauta 145-138. Unfortunately for Nauta, Lim found the strike zone in the tie breaker as Nauta was unable to match the shot and settled for bronze. Guam’s women bowlers included Maria Tosco-Wood, Shannon Bukikosa-Esplana and Arlene Reyes.
According to Guam Bowling Secretary-General and AIBC Executive Director Joey Miranda III, “these were the most grueling lane patterns anyone has witnessed in the past 30 years. The demand on the bowlers to execute and be able to adjust on every shot was crucial and it tested everyone’s patience and ability to spare. This actually bode well for our bowlers and it showed.”