BOWLING:  PAENG  ROLLS  FOR  $1-M

MANILA, August 15, 2005 
(STAR) By Joaquin Henson - High-stakes bowling is expected to bring over a thousand pinbusters to Reno, Nevada, in October for a chance to bag a $1 Million prize and four-time World Cup champion Paeng Nepomuceno is itching to lay his hands on the cash.

Nepomuceno, 48, said he’s trying his luck in the Kingpin Million Dollar tournament at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno. His investment is a $900 entrance fee but if he’s on a roll, there’s a big chance of bringing home the bacon.

Nepomuceno, whose foreign trips are sponsored by Philippine Airlines, estimated it will take 12 straight wins in knockout games to grab the loot.

The one-week tournament begins Oct. 22.

Nepomuceno said reputation won’t mean a thing in the joust. "If you have a bad day or if your opponent plays extraordinarily well, it’s over. Just like that. May silat sa format unlike in the World Cup where you play a series of games. After the first day, the entries are cut in half right away. Then, the next day, they’re cut in half again and so on until there’s just one man standing."

Nepomuceno said he’s never played on the Reno lanes before but unfamiliarity shouldn’t be a factor. He plans to check in a few days early to test the lanes.

A southpaw, Nepomuceno has a built-in advantage because most bowlers are right-handers, meaning the lanes are usually smoother and less worn for the angles used by left-handers.

Nepomuceno said he’s not giving up on his dream of capturing a fifth World Cup. He’s already been cited in the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest World Cup winner ever, taking the crown at 19 in 1976 in Tehran, and the only four-time champion. He also won the World Cup in Jakarta in 1980, LeMans in 1992 and Belfast in 1996. Another title in this decade will mean championships in four straight decades, surely meriting another citation in the Guinness Book.

Nepomuceno said the eliminations to determine the Philippine representative to the World Cup in Slovenia this November are ongoing and he’s hoping to make it.

Last year, he finished third in the eliminations.

Fully recovered from a complicated left wrist surgery, Nepomuceno swims thrice a week to strengthen his shoulders and the regimen has made it easier to throw the ball with force into the pins.

Nepomuceno said he’s not playing in the coming Southeast Asian Games because he missed the tryouts.

He stayed in the US for over a year to attend to his teenaged son who is enrolled in a San Diego school.

"There are six golds at stake in the men’s and ladies categories," said Nepomuceno who made his SEA Games debut in 1981. "We’ve got a good group of players and I’m confident of a sweep. I plan to be their No. 1 cheerleader."

Nepomuceno’s days in active competition are far from over. He’s lined up to play in eight international tournaments until the end of the year.

If the pins fall like they’re supposed to, Nepomuceno might just be a million dollar richer and claim a record fifth World Cup before the year closes.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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