Jason Belmonte Advances to Main Event PBA Tour Finals Title Match

Jason Belmonte Advances to Main Event PBA Tour Finals Title Match
Australian veteran rediscovers magic, upsets Sweden’s Jesper Svensson in Group One finals
 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Australia’s veteran two-handed star, Jason Belmonte, rediscovered his magic just in time to upset his youthful Swedish protégé, 22-year-old Jesper Svensson, and advance to the championship match of the inaugural Main Event PBA Tour Finals at Main Event Entertainment.
 
The Main Event PBA Tour Finals is a new event featuring the top eight PBA members in total earnings over the past 30 months, divided into two pods of four players for a combination of round-robin match play and stepladder matches. The Group One stepladder finals round aired Tuesday on CBS Sports Network. The Group Two stepladder finals round will air on Tuesday, June 20, at 9:30 p.m. EDT.
 
Belmonte, a nine-year PBA Tour veteran at age 33, used lessons learned from his experimentation in the round-robin match play qualifying portion of the elite tournament to narrow his choices of equipment and angle of attack to overpower three opponents in the Group One stepladder round.
 
The three-time PBA Player of the Year and winner of 14 PBA Tour titles, including eight majors, roared out of the starting gate with eight consecutive strikes to eliminate no. 4 qualifier Anthony Simonsen of Austin, Texas, 262-215. Belmonte’s bid for a 300 game ended when he left the 3-4-6-7-10 split in the ninth frame, but just to add to the excitement, he converted the split.
 
The no. 3 qualifier was almost as good in eliminating no. 2 qualifier Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., in the second match. Striking nine times on his first 11 shots – and leaving 10 pins which he converted in both non-strike frames,  Belmonte eliminated Rash, 255-221. Rash’s downfall came in the fifth frame when he left the 4-6-7-9-10 “Greek church” split, which he failed to convert.
 
The two-game, total pinfall final match was a thriller. Svensson gained a one-pin advantage after the first game, winning 258-257 only because Belmonte left a 10 pin on his final shot. The decisive second game tilted in Belmonte’s favor when Svensson left a 7-10 split in his third frame. Belmonte then left a 9 pin in the fifth frame, and another in the ninth, converting both, but the single pins disrupted strings of strikes while Svensson was mounting a six-strike rally.
 
Heading into the 10th frame, Belmonte led by three pins. Svensson’s rally ended when his ball came into the pocket a touch too high and left a 6-8 split, which he failed to convert. Even though Belmonte left a 7-10 split on his first shot in the 10th frame, he had enough to win the game, 225-221, and the match, 482-479.
 
“Look at our games and we were almost equally lucky and unlucky,” Belmonte said.”(Jesper) threw a couple of shots that weren’t great and got away with them, and then he threw an unbelievable shot and left a 9 pin (in game one). And I did the same thing.
 
“It was a good match, especially because the scoring pace was low in the second game, but sometimes you’ve got to bring these young kids down a little bit,” Belmonte added with a smile. “Listen, he’s going to be around a lot longer than I am so he should just let me have a few extra wins now, and he can get them all back when I retire.”
 
The second half of the elite Main Event PBA Tour Finals field will bowl its stepladder round next Tuesday to determine the player who will meet Belmonte in the three-game championship match on Tuesday, June 27, at 9:30 p.m., as well as the runner-up who will bowl the one-game preliminary match against Svensson to determine third and fourth places.
 
The Group Two stepladder round will begin with no. 4 qualifier Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C., bowling no. 3 Dom Barrett of England. The winner will meet no. 2 qualifier Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y. The semifinal match winner will bowl top qualifier EJ Tackett of Huntington, Ind., in the two-game, total pinfall final match. The winner will advance to the championship match against Belmonte while the loser will meet Svensson in the third-fourth place preliminary match.
 
First prize in the Main Event is $30,000 top prize plus a PBA Tour title.
 
MAIN EVENT PBA TOUR FINALS
Main Event, Orlando, Fla. (aired Tuesday on CBS Sports Network)
 
Group One Stepladder Round:
Match One (loser earned $3,000): Jason Belmonte, Australia, def. Anthony Simonsen, Austin, Texas, 262-215.
Semifinal Match (loser earned $3,000): Belmonte def. Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 255-221.
Group One Final Match (two games, total pinfall): Belmonte (257-225) def. Jesper Svensson (258-221), Sweden, 482-479. (Belmonte advances to the championship match; Svensson advances to the third- and fourth-place match).
 
Group Two Stepladder Round Pairings (to air on CBS Sports Network on June 20 at 9:30 p.m. EDT)
Match One: Dom Barrett vs. Tommy Jones.
Semifinal Match: Ryan Ciminelli vs. Match One winner.
Championship (two games, total pinfall): EJ Tackett vs. Semifinal Match winner.
 
Championship Finals Pairings (to air on CBS Sports Network on June 27 at 9:30 p.m. EDT)
Third-Fourth Place Match: Jesper Svensson vs. Group Two runner-up.
Championship (three games, total pinfall): Jason Belmonte vs. Group Two champion.
 
About the PBA
The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) is an organization of more than 3,000 of the best bowlers from 27 countries who compete in PBA Tour, PBA International Tour, PBA Regional Tour, PBA Women’s Regional and PBA50 Tour events. The PBA is in its 58th consecutive year of nationally-televised competition, reaching bowling fans around the world who follow PBA activities through the PBA Network which includes Xtra Frame, the PBA’s exclusive online bowling channel, ESPN and CBS Sports Network, and the PBA on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. PBA sponsors include Barbasol, Brunswick, Ebonite International, GEICO, Grand Casino Hotel and Resort, HotelPlanner.com, Main Event Entertainment, MOTIV, 900 Global, PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game, Storm Products and the United States Bowling Congress, among others. For more information, log on to www.pba.com.

Tackett, Svensson Earn No. 1 Berths for Main Event PBA Tour Finals Stepladder Rounds
Twenty-something PBA stars lead in position to advance to inaugural PBA Tour Finals
 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Reigning PBA Player of the Year EJ Tackett of Huntington, Ind., and Sweden’s Jesper Svensson, two of the PBA’s rising 20-something stars, put themselves into prime position to advance to the championship round in the inaugural Main Event PBA Tour Finals at Main Event Entertainment Orlando.
 
The final round of head-to-head match play qualifying aired Tuesday night on CBS Sports Network.
 
The 24-year-old Tackett, with a 3-1 match play record and 1,144 pins including a 299 game, held off Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y., by 33 pins to earn the no. 1 berth in the Group Two stepladder finals that will air on CBS Sports Network on June 20 at 9:30 p.m. EDT. Ciminelli ended Tackett’s bid for an unbeaten record in match play with a 268-231 win in their position round, also finishing with a 3-1 record and 1,111 pins.
 
In his loss to Ciminelli in the final match, Tackett finally missed the pocket for the first time in four matches. A 4 pin cost him a 300 vs. Barrett in match three, but three single-pin spares plus a 2-4-8-10 split (which he failed to convert) led to his only loss, to Ciminelli, in position round.
 
Ciminelli looked back to his 227-200 loss to Tackett in his opening match, when he missed a 10 pin and left a 3-6-7-9 split as the reason he was unable to finish at the top of the Group Two pod.
 
What killed me was following Jesper (on that pair),” Ciminelli said. “I left easy spares, but the easy spares are the ones you miss when you’re busy thinking about what you need to do. That really caught me. I had a good look in practice, but all of a sudden they got really tight down-lane and it caught me off guard. We don’t have a lot of tournament games in this format so you don’t see the transition, and that’s really what ended up costing me the lead.”
 
England’s Dom Barrett qualified third in Group Two with a 1-3  match play record and 999 total pins, relegating Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C. (1-3, 965 pins) to fourth place in their Group. Barrett and Jones will bowl the opening match in the Group Two stepladder finals, with Ciminelli taking on the winner and Tackett awaiting the survivor of that match for the two-game, total pinfall finale.
 
Svensson, 22, continued to dominate Group One, defeating Australia’s Jason Belmonte, 279-258, after winning his first two matches with 268 games. But Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., ended the Swedish two-hander’s bid for an unbeaten record, 234-222, in their position round match. Svensson still won the group with a 3-1 record and 1,187 pins.
 
With his position round win that included 50 bonus pins, Rash claimed the no. 2 berth for the Group One stepladder finals, airing on CBS Sports Network on June 13 at 9:30 p.m. EDT, with a 3-1 record and 1,062 pins. Belmonte, no. 3 with a 1-3 record and 988 total pins, will bowl the opening match against no. 4 Anthony Simonsen of Austin, Texas, who finished with a 1-3 record and 940 pins. Simonsen avoided a winless match play record and helped derail Belmonte’s bid for the no. 2 berth, winning their position round showdown, 259-245.
 
Belmonte, who came into the PBA Tour Finals as the earnings leader over the 30-month span, said he tried a variety of approaches – urethane and reactive balls, outside and inside angles to the pocket, less speed and more speed – to develop a game plan for the Group One stepladder finals and, hopefully, the championship round.
 
“I wasn’t sure anyone was going to shoot under 220,”  he said after his four matches, “but you also have to think long-term. If I could beat Anthony and beat Sean, I’d still had to beat Jesper (in the two-game stepladder finale) and I needed a good ball reaction if I was going to keep going. So that’s why I ended up going back to reactive.”
 
The stepladder rounds will be pivotal in determining who wins the inaugural Main Event PBA Tour Finals, along with its $30,000 top prize and PBA Tour title. The winners of the Group One and Group Two stepladder events will bowl for the PBA Tour finals in a three-game, total pinfall match that will air on CBS Sports Network on June 27 at 9:30 p.m. EDT. The stepladder runners-up will bowl a one-game preliminary match on the final show to determine third and fourth place finishes in the event.
 
MAIN EVENT PBA TOUR FINALS
Main Event, Orlando, Fla. (aired Tuesday on CBS Sports Network)
 
Final Round Robin Match Play Standings (after four matches, including 50 bonus pins for matches won):
 
Group One Final:
1, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 3-1, 1,187.
2, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 3-1, 1,062.

3, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 1-3, 988.

4, Anthony Simonsen, Austin, Texas, 1-3, 940.
 
Match Play Results:
Svensson def. Belmonte, 279-258.
Rash def. Simonsen, 224-195.
Rash def. Svensson, 234-222.
Simonsen def. Belmonte, 259-245.
 
Group One Stepladder Finals Pairings (to air on CBS Sports Network on June 13 at 9:30 p.m. EDT)
Match One: Jason Belmonte vs. Anthony Simonsen.
Semifinal Match: Sean Rash vs. Match One winner.
Championship (two games, total pinfall): Jesper Svensson vs. Semifinal Match winner.
 
Group Two Final:
1, EJ Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 3-1, 1,144.

2, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 3-1, 1,111.

3, Dom Barrett, England, 1-3, 999.

4, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 1-3, 965.
 
Match Play Results:
Tackett def. Barrett, 299-266.
Ciminelli def. Jones, 257-221.
Ciminelli def. Tackett, 268-231.
Jones def. Barrett, 227-222.
 
Group Two Stepladder Finals Pairings (to air on CBS Sports Network on June 20 at 9:30 p.m. EDT)
Match One: Dom Barrett vs. Tommy Jones.
Semifinal Match: Ryan Ciminelli vs. Match One winner.
Championship (two games, total pinfall): EJ Tackett vs. Semifinal Match winner.
 
About the PBA

The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) is an organization of more than 3,000 of the best bowlers from 27 countries who compete in PBA Tour, PBA International Tour, PBA Regional Tour, PBA Women’s Regional and PBA50 Tour events. The PBA is in its 58th consecutive year of nationally-televised competition, reaching bowling fans around the world who follow PBA activities through the PBA Network which includes Xtra Frame, the PBA’s exclusive online bowling channel, ESPN and CBS Sports Network, and the PBA on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. PBA sponsors include Barbasol, Brunswick, Ebonite International, GEICO, Grand Casino Hotel and Resort, HotelPlanner.com, Main Event Entertainment, MOTIV, 900 Global, PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game, Storm Products and the United States Bowling Congress, among others. For more information, log on to www.pba.com.


Jesper Svensson, EJ Tackett Pace Opening Round of Inaugural Main Event PBA Tour Finals

ORLANDO, Fla. – Sweden’s Jesper Svensson, a six-time PBA Tour winner at age 22, and EJ Tackett of Huntington, Ind., PBA’s reigning Player of the Year at age 24, paced the opening round of round robin match play qualifying in the inaugural Main Event PBA Tour Finals at Main Event Entertainment Orlando.

The first two rounds of match play aired Tuesday night on CBS Sports Network.

Svensson, a two-handed left-handed player and PBA’s 2015 Rookie of the Year, easily defeated fellow two-hander Anthony Simonsen of Austin, Texas, 268-233, and Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., 268-217, in his first two matches in the Group One bracket. Tackett, a high-rev right-handed power player, got past Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C., 237-222, and Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y., 227-200, in his first two matches in Group Two.

With his 2-0 start and grand total of 636 pins, including 50 bonus pins for each match win, Svensson jumped into a 132-pin lead over Rash in the race for seeding positions for the Group One stepladder finals that will air on Tuesday, June 13. Australia’s Jason Belmonte was third in Group One with a 1-1 match play record and 485 total pins. Simonsen was winless in his first two matches and sat in fourth place with 436 pins.

“I moved my hand position a little after my first three shots,” said Svensson of the three single pins he left and converted before throwing strikes on his next nine shots against Simonsen. “That did it. After that, I just tried to throw the ball good and hoped it would strike.”

Tackett (at left) finished the opening round with 564 total pins, 78 pins ahead of Ciminelli. Jones, who lost both of his matches, was third with a 467 total and England’s Dom Barrett with fourth with a 1-1 match play record and 462 pins.

Tackett, who left eight single pins to go along with 16 strikes in his two matches, said, “There were a couple of shots where I got around the ball a bit, but I haven’t had anything worse than a nine-count. Basically, in this format you have to win matches. If you win all four, you don’t have to bowl big games to be in it at the end.”

Round One qualifying will conclude with Svensson meeting Belmonte and Rash bowling Simonsen in Group One, and Tackett vs. Barrett and Ciminelli vs. Jones in Group Two, followed by a position-round matches in each group. The final Round One matches will air on CBS Sports Network on Tuesday, June 6, at 9:30 p.m. EDT. Group One and Group Two stepladder finals will air on June 13 and June 20, respectively, followed by the Main Event PBA Tour Finals telecast on June 27.

MAIN EVENT PBA TOUR FINALS
Main Event, Orlando, Fla. (aired Tuesday on CBS Sports Network)

Round One, Round Robin Standings (after two matches, including 50 bonus pins for matches won):

Group One:
1, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 2-0, 636.
2, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 1-1, 504.
3, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 1-1, 485.
4, Anthony Simonsen, Austin, Texas, 0-2, 436.

Match Play Results:
Rash def. Belmonte, 237-215.
Svensson def. Simonsen, 268-233.
Belmonte def. Simonsen, 220-203.
Svensson def. Rash, 268-217.

Group Two:
1, EJ Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 2-0, 564.
2, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 1-1, 486.
3, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 0-2, 467.
4, Dom Barrett, England, 1-1, 462.

Match Play Results:
Tackett def. Jones, 237-222.
Ciminelli def. Barrett, 236-212.
Tackett def. Ciminelli, 227-200.
Barrett def. Jones, 249-245.

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