AT the young age of 15, this DeLa Salle Greenhills 10th grader has already reached the status of being more than half a millionaire.
And it did not fall from the heavens but he earned it and in the end, had to slug it out with an older opponent four times his age in the final game, I am referring to Patrick Neil Nuqui who emerged as Classifeid Masters Champion at the recently-concluded SM Bowling Millionaire’s Cup at Megamall where he received a cool P600,000 cash prize for his effort.
Ironically, his opponent, Bien Lozada, a 61-year-old senior bowler, the first ever senior citizen champion in the short history of the tournament ended up as Open Division champion and collected a total of P1,350,000, a cool P1M as the champion’s prize and the rest as runner up to Nuqui, unfortunately, when I attended the last PSA Forum at Shakey’s Malate, it was only Nuqui who was there accompanied by SM Leisure & Entertainment head and former world bowling champion CJ Suarez.
Since I was early, I got a chance to talk to the boy who was with his mother, Maritess, and younger sister Alexandra who is a bowler herself and idolizes her “kuya “ even as it is her dream to eventually beat him in this sport, though not now said Patrick who is averaging already 181 pins per game to his sister’s 120.
Patrick, who admitted he joined the tournament without any thought at all that he could win, he made it to the top 45 then the top 24 after the nine-legged series and even as he entered the top eight, he was sure he would lose to opponent Roman Rizale as he saw the older man playing a good game, and surprised everybody by beating Rizale by a wide margin, setting him up for his semifinals match against a female opponent Joyce Abad, whom he beat by a comfortable margin too.
Both the mother and the son could not remember the score , the mother saying the family was not minding the scores at all but focused more on how Patrick was playing and really was not expecting the boy to win, but he did.
In the finals, it finally dawned on Patrick, who plays under the Pasig Bowling Association, one of his sponsors together with E Lanes, and Florence Lim, that he could win the match believing that Lozada who was playing in both divisions, was tiring already. In the two game finals, he edged out Lozada 202-199, then came up with a big game in the second match, winning 240 - 198 that gave him thousands of reasons to be happy.
Like a lot of bowlers, Patrick idolizes bowling legend Paeng Nepomuceno and dreams of following his path, in fact with his winnings, after giving “balato” to his sister, he plans to use the money for his training, including joining his first international tournament next year in Malaysia but candidly said he is not ready yet for a national team stint, in the same breath that he said give ten years more and he can win a world championship title already.
Presently, the boy is coached by Manoy Sayon and former national player Purvis Granger whose faith in their ward was rewarded.
On his part CJ said Patrick’s victory augurs well for the sport, sharing his thought that the boy can serve as a role model for other young people to get into bowling, CJ admitted that the number of people playing competitive bowling is growing smaller as it is difficult to convince recreational bowlers to level up to being competitive ones.
That was the reason why he chose to bring Patrick to the PSA Forum instead of the Open Champion, but CJ sure has a point, after all, this young champion already earned something that other kids his age can only dream of, CJ also shared SM’s plans of actively promoting the sport in schools next year, saying the need really is get kids into the sport as early as possible.
And football seems to be on the same direction as in the same forum there were two young football players accompanied by former Azkal skipper Chieffy Caligdong, the two were two of the six lucky kids who will be going to Barcelona, Spain on December together with other kids from Singapore and Malaysia, this after they were sent to a qualifying football camp in Malaysia earlier.
They were chosen earlier from those who joined Globe’s Football Para Sa Bayan, a talent identification program sponsored by Globe nationwide with Chieffy as implementor. For lack of space, I just would like to acknowledge these six young kids, Lance Lawrence Locsin, Jared Alexander Pena, Ryan Philip Johansson, Astrid heiress Ignacio, Mikaela Jacqueline Villacin, and Jasmine Cassandra Agustin.
They will join the 12-day Astro Kem Bola overseas Training Program in Spain.
That is what you call starting them young.