Further honours for Sue Abela in Masters Finals – disappointment in Team Event

Thursday, April 10, 2014, 8:32

The 17th Mediterranean Championships came to a close at the King’s Bowl, Gibraltar at the weekend, with Sue Abela adding yet another award to her seemingly endless list of both international and national honours, by claiming second place in the Ladies Masters – the championship finals. Joanna Attard also made it through to the final stages, while neither of Malta’s male athletes were able to make it to the top eight as required for qualification.


4-Man Team Event: Excellent start, but a poor finish for Malta


The 4-Man Team event was played over two 3-game sessions on Friday evening and Saturday morning, and the change in Team Malta’s performance overnight was remarkable, resulting in an unprecedented turn for the worse, shattering their chances of picking up any medals. Although individual performance were varied, the front three games saw Malta finish the day at the top of the standings on 2320 pins (team average of 193.3), and in good stead to claiming a top three award after the second set.


But then disaster struck in the back three on Saturday, as the team seemed to struggle to find their collective form as a unit. A very low 666 in game four was the result, with the poor 725 and 742 that followed putting the team on a 4453 final total (185.4 ave). That translated to a slip all the way down to fifth place and any medal hopes were dashed.


The event was won by Greece on 4698 pins, France took silver on 4591 and the bronze medals went to Italy on 4563.


Ladies’ Doubles: Attard tops partner Abela


The very familiar partnership of Joanna Attard and Sue Abela ended up in fourth place, just 56 pins shy of the medals in the Ladies’ event. While the supremely skilled and vastly experienced Abela seemed to be having something of a slow day at the office, Attard rolled an impressive set of 1154 to buoy the team and also improve her already good chances of qualifying for the Masters Finals on Sunday.


The event winners were France (2416), while Italy took another second place (2347), with Greece again in third place (2317).


Ladies Masters Finals: Silver for Sue Abela, loses out to top seed in Grand Final


While neither Neil Sullivan nor Justin Caruana Scicluna managed to make the top eight in the ‘All Events’ standings, and so reach the Masters Finals, it was a different story for Malta’s ladies with Sue Abela qualifying in fifth place (4504, 187.6 ave), and Joanna Attard just scraping though in eighth on 4428 (184.5), just thirteen pins ahead of Spaniard, Rosa Mas in ninth.


The Masters Finals took the form of a knock-out, with head-to-head confrontations played over two games for total pinfall. Joanna Attard was to face first placed qualifier, France’s Lauriane Celie in her quarter final match, and got off to a positive start with a 216 in game one, against a 178 from her opponent. However game two saw the Maltese bowler eliminated in cruel style, 234 – 192 to the Frenchwoman, who claimed the match by a mere four pins (412 – 408).


Sue Abela lost her first quarter final game 186 – 181 against Spain’s Cristina Sanz, although the five pin cushion held by her adversary was no major concern for the Maltese career national champion. Abela more than rose to the challenge, and took the second game 168 – 193, thus advancing to the semi-finals by a 20 pin margin (354 – 374).


France’s second bowler Stephanie Dubourg awaited Sue in that penultimate encounter of the championships, and Abela was a game down once again, losing the first of the pair 211 – 202. Game two saw an identical 202 from the Maltese star, while Dubourg could only muster 187 pins, losing out to Sue by just six pins for the match (398 – 404).


Lauriene Celie had topped the ladies All Events with an excellent 4918 tally from her 18 qualifying games (204.9 ave), and got past Greece’s Nafsika Deligianni in her semi-final match, to set herself up for a grand final against Abela. Game one could barely have been closer, with Abela taking a nominal two pin advantage (187 – 185). Both ladies stepped their game up in game two, but Sue’s 202 effort was not enough to claim the Mediterranean crown for this year, as Celie shot a better 247 to win the match 389 – 432.


The men’s championship was won by George Stefanidis from Greece, who beat Italian Davide Spagnoli 401 – 358 for the title.


Team Malta were accompanied for their trip to Gibraltar by National Coach Mr. Rick Vogelesang, as well as the President of the MTBA, Mr. Paul Baldacchnino. Their trip has been made possible by backing from the MOC, KMS and the MTBA, while facilities for additional intensive training have been afforded by the Eden SuperBowl, in order for Team Malta to adequately prepare for these Championships.


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