Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wildcard Recap

Both series going 3 games. Every game close. Players galore stepping up. An unpredictable finish. What more could you want? The wildcard round was great for the players in it and the people who came down to watch.

(3) Strike Kings vs. (6) Asian Sensation

Game 1: Asian Sensation got their before anyone else on Sunday to prep, and it definitely paid off. Jin returned for Asian Sensation and was solid, scoring a 149. Khaled had a 168, while Adam and Amin bowled a 140 and a 137 respectively.

But who led Asian Sensation? That would be the player that got questioned by me the most, Yash. Calling his match-up with Don the biggest mismatch in the first round, Yash immediately made me eat crow by bowling a 180, which not only led his team, but beat Don as well. Once again proving the commish is a great predictor.

Strike Kings got off to a slow start in this game. Jason and Don were able to pick it up, as both finished with a score of 176. Arshad bowled a 146. But that's all the Strike Kings got, as once again their depth hurt them. Asian Sensation won game 1 in a close one 774-735.

Game 2 was more of the same. Yash once again showed that he shouldn't be taken lightly as he once again led the team with a 179. Khaled was right behind him with a 177. But they didn't get too much help after that and the next highest score was 129.

Don and Jason started to get it going in game 2 as Jason bowled a 207, while Don bowled a 202. The surprise in this game was Ammad, coming through with a big 153. In a close game, him bowling nearly 30 pins over his average was huge. Especially when Arshad fell off and Nisar still couldn't really get it going. Thanks to Ammad for making me look smart in predicting he'd be the difference in a game, as Strike Kings take game 2 784-749.

In the win or go home game 3, this match was all about the MVP taking over. Jason bowled his season high of 259 to do his part in ensuring the Strike Kings would advance. Don also stepped up with a 213, proving once against that the Strike Kings have the best 1-2 punch in the league and are not going to be thrown off in the big moments. But the big surprise was Ammad, bowling a 158, giving him back-to-back 150 games for the first time this season.

As for Asian Sensation, their lack of consistency came back to hurt them. Amin bowled his season high of 167, and Khaled put in 162 pins. Khalil came off the bench to give a 150. But Yash cooled off and Jin didn't really have it after game 1. Strike Kings advance with an 865-752 score.

MVP of this match-up: Without question, Jason showed why he was the league's best bowler. Although he got off to a 'rough start' with a 176, bowling a 207 and a 259 in two elimination games is just about as clutch as you can get. In game 3, he had a string of 8 strikes, which ensured Asian Sensation would play catch up all game long.

Unsung hero: With apologies to Don, without Ammad, Asian Sensation was looking at a sweep in game 2. As predicted, he was the swing bowler in this match-up. With two 150 games, both wins, he gave Jason and Don the 3rd bowler they needed in order to advance to round 2.

A lot of credit goes to Asian Sensation in this match-up. They really bowled well and gave the Strike Kings a big scare. Khaled kept going in his streak of impressive weeks, and Yash showed that he can handle big time pressure. After a late season swoon, they came on strong in this series.

Strike Kings advance on to play the #2 seed Pin Pals. Expect a lot of trash talking between Jason and Ayaz this week. The banter between those two may be better than the matches themselves.

(4) Strikes 'n' Spares vs. (5) Force

This wildcard match-up was pitted as a total toss up. Both teams came in hot, and this was expected to come down to the 3rd game. Every game, except 1, was over 800, and neither team disappointed in this highly touted series.

In game 1, Force came out hot from the get go, with Shumail and Prince starting off with double strikes in their first 2 frames. That set the tempo for the Force squad. They had it going all game long and finished with an impressive 853 score. Shumail led the team with a 201, Raheel had a 191, Prince bowled a 182, and Roswell bowled a 156 in a true team effort.

SnS came out strong as well. Naeem and Nadeem made a couple of very difficult spares early which sparked the team and they were able to keep it very close early on. Mufthy led the team with a 179, Nadeem had a 169, and Raza added a 157. But it wasn't enough as Force took game 1 853-773.

Game 2 saw SnS start out on fire and kept it going throughout most of the match. Raza led their charge with a 194, Mufthy had a 191, Amaad had a 186, Nadeem had a 154, and Hamza had a 151. When your lowest score is a 151, that leads to great things. SnS bowled the league team high for the day of 876.

Force was almost just as good as game 1. Prince led the team with a 195, Roswell added in a 170, and Shumail had a 157. Force looked good in this game, but a couple of splits, plus the consistent striking of SnS hurt them and they couldn't overcome either one of those. SnS wins game 2 876-808, sending this series to an exciting elimination game.

Game 3 was the most intense game of the SABowl season. And in the biggest game, who was the bowler to step-up? In a game that shocked the SABowl league, Force's quiet lead-off bowler Roswell bowled his career high of 232. Roswell only had one open frame, and had 2 separate strings of turkeys. Making his performance even more clutch, in the 10th frame of still a close match, Roswell got 2 strikes and a 9 to give Force the cushion it needed. If he bowled even a well-above average game of 180, Force likely loses this game and the series.

As for his teammates, Prince bowled the quietest 190 the league has ever seen, which included a big 10th frame of strike, strike, 9, which cancelled out anything Mufthy could have done for SnS. Shumail added in a 159, and Alan bowled a 158. Force once again had a very balanced attack, but no one would have guessed Roswell would lead them to victory.

Overshadowed in Roswell's career performance was SnS keeping it really close throughout the match. Raza bowled a 179, Amaad had a 157, and Mufthy bowled a 215, finishing the game with 5 strikes in row. The only thing that hurt this team was the 9th frame. Everyone on Force had a mark (a strike or a spare), while 2 players on SnS left the 9th open. In a game where virtually every shot counted, having a less than perfect 9th was too much for SnS to handle. Force wins a classic match 875-835.

MVP of this match-up: Hands down goes to Roswell. Likely viewed as the teams 6th bowler, his game 1 of 156, and game 2 of 170 were already well above his average (125.5). He set the tone for the Force lineup all series long. And that was before his incredible performance in game 3. One can argue his 232 was more impressive than Jason's 259, as Roswell's previous career high was a 179. Roswell also bowled a 558 series, which is by far the highest he's had his season.

Unsung hero: One would never guess that Roswell's 558 series was Force's 2nd highest series for the day. The highest? A 567 series bowled by Prince. Showing no reaction, as usual, Prince was able to roll games of 182, 195, and 190. What makes his games more impressive was that he couldn't even get a strike, until he absolutely had to (see game 3 recap).

SnS was the 2nd best team on Sunday in terms of total pins. They've been the league's hottest team since week 5. Had they bowled against anyone else in the wildcard round, they likely sweep. This team brought it, and showed why no one wanted to play them in the playoffs. Expect them to come back next season as one of the league's most complete teams.

Force moves on to play the #1 Pin Smackers in the semi-finals. Expect this match to be the antithesis of the Strike Kings vs. Pin Pals series. Between Prince showing zero emotion during matches, and Abhi being 'the mayor,' except no trash talking at all in this match-up.

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