Australian Sam Cooley, the 2018 World Cup men’s singles champion, can readily exhibit the kind of performance that Filipino bowlers should emulate to make it big in the coming Southeast Asian Games.

So don’t be surprised when the 27-year-old from Sydney, Australia corners most of the attention in the finals of 2019 Philippine International Open Tenpin Bowling Championships at the Coronado Lanes at Starmall, Mandaluyong beginning Saturday.

“I don’t see it particularly easy. It’s going to take a lot of good shotmaking and mental toughness to get it done,’’ said Cooley, who will defend the PIO men’s open title that he handily won last year on the same venue.

Challenging the dominance of Cooley is the PH men’s team led by four-time Filipino male bowler of the year Kenneth Chua, the leader in the qualifying round that ended on Thursday, and national youth standouts Kenzo Umali and Merwin Tan.

Cooley, a gold medalist in the all events of the 2012 world youth championships, is already seeded in the first round of the finals while Chua, Umali and Tan have advanced straight to the medal round set on Sunday.

“I qualified automatically. Right now, I’m just testing out things until the finals,’’ said Cooley, who also had a collection of silver and bronze medals in the previous editions of the world championships.

Chua sealed the No. 1 spot in the qualifying round after rolling 1483 pinfalls, Umali wound up 50 pinfalls behind while Tan, Asian youth singles gold medalist, compiled 1426 after two rounds in the meet supported by Pagcor, Cafe Puro, Prima Pasta, MVP Sports Foundation, Boysen Paints, Linden Suites and the Philippine Sports Commission.

“It will take more than just consistency to win the title. I have to show up with my performance in the finals,’’ said Chua, a men’s singles silver medalist in the 2017 Asian Indoor Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

Also poised to move over to the finals are national team mainstay Frederick Ong (1412), Jonas Baltasar of TBAM-Prima (1403) and PH pool member Emerson Gotencio (1394).

Organized by the Philippine Bowling Federation as a test event for the 30th Southeast Asian Games, the ongoing PIO is designed to gauge the readiness of the national team composed of a deep pool of aspirants that will be pruned down to four male and four female bowlers.

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