PAGE IS NO. 1 SELECTION AS FRANCHISE PLAYERS FILL ROSTERS FOR INAUGURAL PBA LEAGUE CAMPAIGN
LAS VEGAS – Left-hander Rhino Page of Dade City, Fla., the Professional Bowlers Association’s 2008-09 Rookie of Year, was the top selection in the inaugural PBA League Draft held Friday at South Point Bowling Center. The historic PBA League, consisting of eight five-player teams of PBA stars, will make its debut Jan. 19-27 at Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park, Mich.
Page, a three-time PBA Tour titlist and a finalist in the 2012 PBA World Championship, was selected by PBA Hall of Famer Norm Duke, one of the eight Franchise Players who will head the PBAL teams. The Franchise Players were the top players in competition points during the 2011-12 PBA Tour season. Duke won the first pick in a PBA Draft Lottery held earlier during the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling.
The draft was conducted in a serpentine fashion, whereby once the eight players selected their first picks, the draft order was reversed for each subsequent round. For example, Finland’s Osku Palermaa, who picked eighth in the first round, then picked first in the second round. Each team consists of five players plus a supplemental pick who will only enter the competition if a roster player is unable to perform.
PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber of St. Ann., Mo., drafted second, and his first pick was 13-time PBA Tour titlist Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C.
“My first pick wasn’t going to be anyone else,” Weber said, “and after that, Tommy and I together talked over the guys we wanted to pick. Our sleeper is (former Wichita State University star John) Szczerbinski (of North Tonawanda, N.Y.), but he’ll be all right. I’m just looking forward to seeing my team on TV.”
Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pa., picked third.
“I’m very happy,” O’Neill said. “There were a few guys I had high on my list who I didn’t think would be there, but there they were.”
Australia’s Jason Belmonte was No. 4 in the draft order.
“I have a really well-balanced team. Everyone has TV experience, everyone has big-time tournament experience,” he said. “Walking into (Thunderbowl), I know everyone is going to be prepared. I’m really happy with my third pick, Parker Bohn III. He’s a proven champion. He’s going to give 110 percent, and I know he has something to prove.”
Mike Fagan of Dallas followed Belmonte.
“I feel really good about our team. We don’t have any weak links,” Fagan said. “I wasn’t too concerned about having one superstar; I was looking more at the composite of our group.”
Reigning PBA Player of the Year Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., also was pleased.
“I got one of the best lefties on tour (Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y.) Ryan Shafer is a proven champion. I got the greatest player of all-time (47-time PBA Tour champion Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Ocala, Fla.) I looked into who has bowled well currently and at Thunderbowl (in 2009) and team chemistry as well.”
No. 7 Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, said, “I feel great about my team. Everyone I drafted was in the top 25 in points last year. They all have the ability to play straight or hook the ball. With the exception of me, they’re all young. They are all team players. I didn’t think (first pick) Dom (Barrett of England) would get to me, and I certainly didn’t think (fellow Englishman) Stu (Williams) would still be on the board. I have no complaints.”
Palermaa, who has extensive international experience, picked Sweden’s Martin Larsen and Canada’s Dan MacLelland with his back-to-back picks. “The best guys were going to go first, but I’ve got a versatile team. That’s what you have to go for.”
The inaugural PBA League will introduce its unique professional bowling league concept, including celebrity owners, during the Detroit Winter Swing Jan. 19-27 at Thunderbowl in, concluding the week with five ESPN television shows including a live telecast of PBA League Round 1 on Sunday, Jan. 27. Subsequent shows will be taped to air on Feb. 10, Feb. 17, March 3 and March 24.
The team championship will be decided during the PBA League Elias Cup Finals, honoring PBA founder Eddie Elias, at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis on Sunday, March 31 (airing Sunday, April 7 on ESPN).
During the first four days in Detroit, the PBA will conduct a series of open-field tournaments (the Carmen Salvino Classic, Mark Roth Classic, Don Carter Classic and Earl Anthony Players Championship). Those four events will award individual PBA Tour titles and the qualifying scores posted by each PBAL team member will be combined to produce the team qualifying scores for the ESPN telecasts. All PBAL matches on ESPN will be Baker Format matches where each team member will bowl two frames in each game.
PBA LEAGUE TEAM LINEUPS
NORM DUKE, CLERMONT, FLA.
PETE WEBER, ST. ANN, MO.
BILL O’NEILL, LANGHORNE, PA.
JASON BELMONTE, AUSTRALIA
MIKE FAGAN, DALLAS
SEAN RASH, MONTGOMERY, ILL.
CHRIS BARNES, DOUBLE OAK, TEXAS
OSKU PALERMAA, FINLAND
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