By MARK REY MONTEJO
Prodigious Art Barrientos highlighted Team Philippines’ historic campaign in the 2023 Asian Youth Tenpin Bowling Championship with a dramatic win to capture the biggest prize of all – the Masters event.
Up against the top-seed Australian Blake Walsh, Barrientos, 18, refused to be intimidated, coming through with a remarkable display in ball hitting and nerves solid as steel to emerge the biggest winner at the Blu-O Rhythm & Bowl, Major Cineplex Ratchayothin in Bangkok, Thailand on Wednesday, July 12.
He rolled a two-game series of 443 against the 349 of the Aussie to author one of the biggest upsets in the history of the event.
He hinted of good things to come after downing 206 pins in the opening match while Walsh struggled with a 180.
Barrientos then completed the rout with 237 pinfalls in the next match against 169 for Walsh.
Barrientos’ title win was the first for the country since former PH team coach Biboy Rivera triumphed in 1999 also against a stellar field.
The Philippines finished third overall behind South Korea, which collected 3 gold, 4 silver and 1 bronze medals, and Singapore, which finished with 2 gold, 1 silver and 4 bronze medal.
But the country’s two-gold performance was also the best-ever finish by a PH team in years.
Barrientos earlier joined forces with Zach Ramin, Marc Custodio and Stephen Diwa to win the team – the first for a PH team since the birth of the event 1981 which the country hosted.
After emerging as the country’s second best producer in the team event, Barrientos continued his hot form and finished third in the step-ladder finals with 3447 pinfalls.
Walsh emerged No. 1 with 3533 while Korean Lee Myeongchol wound up second with 3452.
He arranged a title clash with Walsh by outlasting the Korean in a tense but exciting duel, 205-191.
Ramin (3310) and Custodio (3197) ended 8th and 12th in the qualifying rounds.
In winning the team gold, the Filipinos bested the Korens and Thais.
Meanwhile, Singaporean Ning Tay ruled the distaff side after beating Anis Hannani Romzi of Malaysia, 485-452.