PH boys bowling team thriving under guidance of American coach Joe Slowinski
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine boys’ bowling team logged feats in a span of 30 days that took several decades to duplicate.
Artegal Barrientos seized the masters title from a favored foe in the 21st Asian Youth Tenpin Bowling Championships early this month and helped collect the boys’ team of four plum in a miraculous comeback at the same Bangkok, Thailand meet in a collective effort with Zach Ramin, Stephen Luke Diwa and Marc Dylan Custodio.
Only three weeks earlier, the 17-year-old Ramin became the first Filipino male bowler to win the world-acclaimed Singapore Open.
Behind the string of success is a master planner who helped configure it all together.
“We have plans for these guys as we want to keep this youth group moving forward. We really feel strongly and optimistic about their future,” said national coach Joe Slowinski, a top-flight American mentor credited for the major breakthrough in the country’s bowling program.
The team victory at the Asian youth was a replica of the 1981 title won by Oly Reformado, George Fernandez and Steward Uy while the gold of Barrientos was a repeat act when Engelberto “Biboy” Rivera won it in 1996.
“This is a real big success of recent times. To win the boys’ overall title against Korea, Singapore and Malaysia is a major accomplishment. That’s the first time ever after 42 years since the team won and 27 years since the masters’ gold,” said Slowinski.
But the USBC-certified gold coach, the highest honor and reward for the time and effort a coach can put into their craft, a great deal of labor is still necessary to revive the golden days of Philippine bowling in 70s and 80s when legends Olivia “Bong’’ Coo and Paeng Nepomuceno ruled the roost.
With the full backing of the Philippine Sports Commission where Coo is now a commissioner and the Philippine Bowling Federation, Slowinski pointed out that a lot of work with regard to youth development is needed since Singapore and Malaysia have a deep pool of young bowlers.
“We want to do some specialized training for them to boost their motivation, improve their skill level and continue the journey that they started, so next time this group can be ready for the world youth championships,” said Slowinski.
Aside from the technical side of winning, the former bowling director at Lincoln Memorial University and president of the US NCAA women’s bowling coaches association and the National Tenpin Coaches Association believes teamwork and emotional control are also pivotal.
“The goal is to be confident and competent in any part of the lane, including angular, speed and release changes and that really helped because we did a lot of changes,” said Slowinski, who transformed LMU women’s bowling into a national powerhouse in the US NCAA.
“The key though was the meeting on how to become good teammates and they bought in the process a hundred percent. They were really in a zone and really focused. These men trust each other and are committed to one another,” added Slowinski.
Wearing the Philippine jersey was likewise a factor.
“When you wear the jersey of your nation, that’s an honor and a privilege. We know that we were fighting for the whole country and the country was behind us,” said Slowinski.
Only Ramin was tapped to play with the national men’s team that includes double Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Merwin Tan, Patrick Nuqui, JP Macatula and Ivan Malig at the Thailand International Open in Bangkok beginning on Tuesday.
The same men’s elite core will also compete in the IBF 2023 World Championships in Kuwait on October 3-18. Slowinski, however, remains all praises with his youth squad.
“They are a great team (youth). We will continue the work that we have done in the (youth) preparations for the world championships,” said Slowinski.
“We’ll continue the relationships that we had with constant communication, sharing the training plan and getting feedback to one another and prepare as a single unit,” he added.