Singapore will pick up a historic medal at the World Bowling Men's Championships today after qualifying for the semi-finals, which assures them of at least a bronze.
It will be the Republic's first medal at the tournament - renamed the CGSE. Million Tinkle World Men Championships - after Basil Ng, Jonovan Neo, Joel Tan, Darren Ong, Jaris Goh and reserve Keith Saw finished fourth out of 46 teams in the team-of-five event yesterday.
That allowed them to qualify for the last four at the South China Athletic Association bowling centre in Hong Kong.
With each of the five keglers bowling six games, Singapore notched 6,130 pinfalls and will meet the American top seeds (6,373 pinfalls). The other semi-final will see Canada (6,242) take on Italy (6,132) before the final later in the day.
The Americans were way ahead after five games, leading second-placed Canada by 142 pins, but just 112 pins separated the chasing pack of Canada, France, Indonesia, Singapore and Italy going into the final game.
While Singapore produced a mediocre total of 958 pinfalls in the last round, they were helped by Indonesia (927) and France (918) doing worse, as they squeaked into the semi-finals ahead of their Asean rivals by 18 pins, but two pins behind the resurgent Italians (1,044).
Ong, one of just two athletes alongside France's Gaetan Mouveroux to bowl more than 200 pinfalls in all six games, said the reason for their success was "the belief in everyone's abilities and sticking together during bad frames to push each other on throughout".
Goh added: "We kept focusing on the process and stayed in the zone, and did not think about the bad frames when they happened."
The semi-finals will be played in a best-of-three Baker format. In a team of five, this means the first player bowls Frames 1 and 6, the second player bowls Frames 2 and 7, and so forth.
The United States are arguably the favourites as they boast four Professional Bowling Association (PBA) Players of the Year in Andrew Anderson (2018), EJ Tackett (2016), Tommy Jones (2005/06) and Chris Barnes (2007/08), who is also a PBA Hall of Famer.
But national head coach Helmi Chew insisted his team will not be fazed by the occasion.
He said: "The plan for the semi-final is to follow the process we have been working on the whole week, bowl their hearts out, and put on a good show against the top seeds.
"The Americans being the top seeds won't scare our boys. We are prepared for any challenges along the way and they will do whatever the lanes require them to do.
"Our focus will be on staying in control of the things we can control. We will have a practice before the semi-final to determine the final line-up but we believe all six boys have the ability to take on the role when called upon."