The Professional Bowlers Assn. League season is still a few months away, but one thing seems clear: The Los Angeles X is loaded with talent.
That became more evident when Finnish native Mika Koivuniemi claimed the championship of the Columbia 300 Vienna Open last weekend in Austria. It was the 46-year-old Koivuniemi’s third PBA International Tour title of the year. And Koivuniemi will be bowling for the X when the PBA League enters its second season Jan. 1.
Koivuniemi, who has 12 PBA Tour titles, was the No. 2 bowler for the PBA League’s Philadelphia Hitmen last season. He was picked up by the X in the off-season and is now the No. 2 bowler for the X. Koivuniemi, a resident of Hartland, Mich., took the spot on the X of Wes Malott, who has moved on to the cross-town Silver Lake (Calif.) Atom Splitters.
With Jason Belmonte of Australia as the X’s No. 1, or franchise player, and Parker Bohn III of Jackson, N.J., and Andres Gomez of Colombia as the team’s Nos. 3 and 4 players, the X arguably has as much talent as any team in the league.
The X will fill its No. 5 and final spot at the PBA League draft in Las Vegas early next month.
Interestingly, the X had a boatload of talent in the league’s inaugural season but failed to qualify for the Elias Cup tournament that determines the league champion.
One can’t help but wonder why such a talented group of individuals failed to perform well as a team. Is there a chemistry component in team bowling – like many other sports?
That’s a difficult question to answer, but it is interesting to note that last season's champion, the New York City WTT KingPins, sported the only woman owner with tennis icon Billie Jean King.
And King’s team also had the lone woman on its roster in Kelly Kulick, who is currently far ahead in the World Bowling Tour women’s points standings.
Kulick also happens to be available in the PBA League draft.
Incidentally, Kulick is the only woman to win a PBA Tour title when she finished first in the 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas. Kulick happened to reach the finals by defeating
Koivuniemi by the nail-biting score of 227-223.
It was much easier for Kulick in the finals where she outscored Chris Barnes, the Atom Splitters’ franchise player, 265-195.
One year later, Koivuniemi won the PBA Tournament of Champions title.