The third annual BOV Platinum Cup attracted a record entry of 44 tenpin bowlers of various levels, with 29 participants in the men’s division and 15 in the women’s competition.

The eventual winners were teenage starlet Sara Xuereb, who beat her bowling idol Sue Abela in the medal match, and Kenneth Arpa.

Typically, it was Abela who led the women’s event from the outset, qualifying in the top spot on 2,587 over 12 games ahead of Cynthia Duca (2,469), Xuereb (2,404), Michaela Briffa (2,371), Tiziana Carannante (2,338) and Stephanie Said (2,291).

The group of six, made up of an impressive mix of age and experience, then went on to play in the penultimate Round Robin stage, with only 50 per cent of their previous score carried forward.

Valuable bonus points for wins and draws were added to scores from each bowler’s five head-to-head matches and National Sport School player Xuereb managed to take over the lead, thanks to an incredible series (241-204-240-243-243), and a 100 per cent win record for a further 100 bonus pins.

Abela found herself in the unusual position of lying second, having won three from five following a couple of below-par games. Third place and the last spot in the Stepladder Final went to Briffa, who also managed to pick up three match wins.

Briffa faced Abela in the semi-final over one game, and it was the veteran star all the way with a run of strikes and spares.

Xuereb was next up for Abela in the final, the latter needing to win twice from the underdog position.

The youngster was up for the challenge, but Abela narrowly took game one 224-213 to force the second game. It was Abela’s turn for some cruel splits and open frames this time, while Xuereb kept her cool, closing all but one frame for a winning 206 effort, against Abela’s low 174.

Early advantage

Although consistently one of the country’s top players, the winner’s podium had eluded Arpa for some time lately.

However, he played his 12 qualifying games in the men’s Platinum Cup with supreme determination, leading on 1,320 after six, and holding the top spot with 2,551 after 12.

He was joined in the Round Robin phase by Mark Spiteri (2,521), Mauro Anastasi (2,494), Justin Caruana Scicluna (2,472), Mark Serge (2,452) and Mark Muscat (2,448).

Arpa maintained his form to stay top with four wins from five and Spiteri also kept his position in spite of only two wins from his set.

The surprise package of the tournament had definitely been Mark Serge and indeed it was he who went through to the finals in third place, after a poor start followed by a strong finish with three match wins.

Spiteri and Serge faced off in the semi-finals.

Serge proved yet again that he was no pushover, bowling well against the greatly experienced Spiteri, only missing out on the final by a mere ten pins (211-201).

The medal match was played to a similar script as that of the women, with second seed Spiteri taking a thrilling opener 245-233 and so a second game was needed to determine a winner.

Spiteri’s game was plagued by unlucky splits in four of his frames, while Arpa’s grit and precision came through for him to win it 210-163, and so claim the title.

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