Like the modern sporting heroes before her, Krizziah Lyn Tabora’s life changed overnight.
The splendor of her stirring triumph in Bowling’s World Cup, however, did not fully sink in until after her 20-hour trip from Hermosillo, Mexico and the hero’s welcome at the Manila airport.
“Doon pa lang po nag sink-in, paglapag ko sa eroplano.” said Tabora, who defied the odds and a slew of international pro tour champions to emerge the new World Cup queen from the Philippines.
From the airport where she was met by cheering fans and airport staff, she went straight to the Manila Polo Club in Makati for the formal victory celebration tendered by supporters, staff and her teammates and coaches in the Philippine Bowling Federation. It did not matter if it ended past midnight.
She was met by bowling’s long-time supporter Putch Puyat of Puyat Sports who announced the free use of facilities for Tabora at Puyat Sports bowling lanes at Star Mall in Mandaluyong.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Peping Cojuangco has vowed for the inclusion of bowling into the calendar of the 24th Southeast Asian Games that will be hosted by the country in 2019.
Bowling was not on the initial list of sports that will be included in biennial games. “It was the life-saver,” said Cojuangco of Tabora’s World Cup conquest which came after 14 long years.
The 26-year-old was the fifth Filipino to win the World Cup after CJ Suarez did it in 2003. Tabora joins an elite list of Filipino World Cup champions such as Paeng Nepomuceno, Bong Coo, Lita Dela Rosa.
After just five hours of sleep, Tabora proceeded to various commitments that suddenly flooded her way including interviews by various media outlets and a courtesy call to Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Butch Ramirez, who included her to the agency’s priority list of athletes.
Tabora’s monthly allowance will be raised from P25,000 to P40,000. Ramirez also promised to work on her incentives even as her World Cup victory is not included under the implementing rules of the Incentives Acts.
“Masayang-masaya po ako at nakapagbigay po kami ng karangalan sa ating bansa. Ito na nga po siguro ang year ko and sana tuloy-tuloy na,” said Tabora, who won several medals this year.
In Kuala Lumpur, she teamed up with Marie Alexis Sy, Dyan Coronacion Marian Lara Posadas and Maria Liza Del Rosario in bagging the bronze in the team events in the Southeast Asian Games. Three weeks later, she was back in the lanes to win the silver in the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
“Nakita ko ung focus niya and composure sa TV (live streaming) sa laban niya sa World Cup. Parang emotionless and she has really matured,” said Coo.
On to the title
Tabora and her male single’s compatriot Jomar Jumapao went to Mexico without their national team coaches. They were accompanied by her parents, Delfin and Thelma, who paid for their own trip.
It helped that her father, who introduced her to the sport 13 years ago, was a certified coach under national team mentor and four-time World Cup king, Paeng Nepomuceno.
On his way to the crown, Tabora finished eight among more than 68 entries by rolling to 3,849 pinfalls after 24 games. In the race to Top 4, she placed eight third among the eight qualifiers by scoring 5,098 pinfalls after 32 games.
Admittedly, Tabora began to feel the mounting pressure.
“Dito na po talaga kinakabahan na ako. Hindi nap ako makakain ng maayos,” she said.
She passed the biggest stumbling block in Rocio Restrepo of Columbia by outscoring the multi-titlist veteran, 249-222.
Her semis win gave her the privilege to choose her lane. “I decided to stick to may lane and ako last na titira. Ayaw ko nang lumipat ng lane kasi swerte na ako doon at hindi na rin ako gaano makakilos sa sobrang kaba.”
In the final shootout with Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul of Malaysia, she had to call teammate Jumapao to take the coach’s seat for her. “Siya na pinaupo ko sa likod ko kasi kung yung parents ko pa, baka pressure ako nang husto kasi ayaw ko silang ma-dissappoint.
Tabora has a peculiar way of psyching herself up. She doesn’t look at the scoreboard after every frame. But she has means to know how she performed. “Tinitingnan ko na lang po young reaction ng mga tao.”
Emotionless and fully focused, the Entrepreneurship grad did her business on the lanes. Tabora got an embrace from Siti even before her final turn in the 10th frame. “
“Hindi kopo alam na sa 9th frame pa lang, panalo na ung score ko kahit nakatapos na siya ng 10th. After ng last shot niya (Siti) niyakap nap o niya ako and she said ‘I’m proud of you, congratulations.”
The final score of the final showdown, 236 to 191, and the Philippines has a new World Cup titlist.
Nepomuceno, who is in the prestigious Guinness Book of World Records for winning the World Cup four-times—the most by any player in history—is now the head coach of the Philippine men and women’s national team.
Coo is currently the team manager with her position as Philippine Bowling Federation’s chairperson of men’s and women’s national team affairs.
“Nakaka inspire nga po ung presence nila sa team and un pong mga naitituro po nila sa amin, confident po kami dahil they had been there,” said Tabora.
With her recent victory Victory, the national team now has become an all-star cast with three World Cup champions in the fold.
“Philippine bowling is definitely back to where it was. During our time, pag nakakuha kami ng bronze (in international competitions) malungkot pa kami. Then dumating ung point in recent years na nagdadasal ka kami na kahit makakuha ng bronze tuwang-tuwa na kami,” said Coo, who said that when she joined the PBF couple of years ago, they tried hard to convince Nepomuceno to join.
“When bowling as at its lowest, nag-usap-usap kami na we really have to do something. We just can’t let bowling die dahil mawawala ang legacy namin”
Nepomuceno, who had to let go of more lucrative opportunities abroad, said it’s his way of giving back to the sport.
“Life has been and we have to give back and pay it forward. I’m still very much happy to represent our country in a different capacity. I’m happy to share my experience with our new generation (of bowlers) that will make our country proud,” he said, during a Live Sports Chat program of the PSC-POC Media Group.
Coo emphasized the difference of the sport now as compared during their time.
“Bowling has become a complex game because of the equipment and technology. Pati oil pattern ng lanes ibang-iba na.”
A player in this modern time of bowling, has to bring at least six balls to a tournament. “Ang bolang gagamitin mo will defend on the oiling and lane conditions.”
“Di katulad nung panahon naming, kami (players) mismo ang nagdadala sa laro. Pero siyempre dapat parin consistency at ung mental toughness. At yan ang dinedevelop naming sa mga bata ngayon.”
With only less than a week to relish her victory, Tabora will again sets out to battle as she joins the entire national squad to the World Championship set Dec. 25-Dec 4 in Las Vegas, USA.
“Ibang laban naman poi to and hindi magiging madali,” admits Tabora, who will now be joined by women’s national coach Jojo Canares, former Southeast Asian Games champion.
The women’s team, aside from Tabora, is composed of Liza Clutario, Liza del Rosario, Alexis Sy, Lara Posadas and Bea Hernandez.
The men’s team under coach Biboy Rivera are Jumapao, Kenneth Chua, Kevin Cu, Jaypee Macatula, Merwin Tan and Raul Miranda.
They will leave on Nov. 22 in full force with head coach Nepomuceno and team manager Bong Coo.
The Philippine team was among the 12 teams which passed the Asian qualifiers. They will battle with other qualifiers from the European and American zones.
The 36 nations will battle it out for the 12 pennants, six in each of the men’s and women’s category—singles, doubles 3-man, 5-man, all events, and masters.
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