National bowlers Kenneth Chua and Lara Posadas-Wong have positioned themselves as the biggest threats to defending champions Liza Del Rosario and Australian Sam Cooley in the Philippine International Open Tenpin Bowling Championships 2019.

The Southeast Asian Games-bound Chua rolled a consistent effort of 1440 pinfalls that installed the silver medalist in the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games atop the leaderboard in the men’s open qualifying round.

Posadas-Wong, treaded the same path in the women’s open qualifying round, compiling 1438 pinfalls to assure herself of a spot in the first round of the finals along with Chua in the main tournament of the foreign-spiced meet scheduled to begin this week.

The top three bowlers in the female open category and the best six finishers in the male division have booked themselves a trip to the international tourney where Cooley and Del Rosario have been automatically seeded.

“It’s going to be a tough competition both against the local and foreign bowlers. I want to be consistent throughout the tournament,’’ said Chua.

Philippine Bowling Federation secretary general Bong Coo said the two-week meet backed by Pagcor, Cafe Puro, Boysen Paints, Prima Pasta, Linden Suites and the Philippine Sports Commission is a test event for the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games on Nov. 30-Dec. 11.

The ongoing competition is also part of the qualifiers that the national pool should undergo for the PBF, the local body recognized by World Bowling and the Philippine Olympic Committee, to finalize its SEA Games lineup.

Also qualifying in the initial round of the finals in the main tournament for the women’s open are national team mainstay Alexis Sy (1343) and 2017 World Cup champion Krizziah Tabora.

Joining Chua in the finale on the men’s side are Merwin Tan (1426), Frederick Ong (1412), Jonas Baltasar (1403), Kenzo Umali (1401) and Raoul Miranda (1367). A total of 97 foreign bowlers from nine countries will be seeking spots in the finals.

Coo said the Philippine team to the SEA Games will be composed of four men and four women, whose performances will be evaluated in the ongoing meet, the Singapore Open on June 16-30 and Hong Kong Open on July 15-20 before the lineup gets finalized.

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