Nineteen of twenty-four. That's how many strikes Italy's duet Nicola Pongolini and Antonino Fiorentino managed to convert in the EMC 2023 Doubles event final. Gli Azzurri's scored 267 each to win gold against Sweden's Jesper Svensson and James Blomgren 534-482.
Nicola Pongolini and Antonino Fiorentino started their dominance in the first squad of Doubles qualification.
Italy's duet scored a massive 2870 total in six games, to win Squad 1 with ease. Later on, in Squad 2, Dutch Mark Jacobs scored the first perfect game of the event and, in duet with the freshly baked Singles champion Jord Van Weeren, they smashed 2914 total to snap the first place of the qualification from Italy.
The Dutches also rolled a new European record of 568 total (Jacobs 300, Van Weeren 268) in the first game of Squad 2.
However, following Squad 3, Pongolini and Fiorentino could watch their opponents try to snap a place in the final four with peace in mind, as they had almost one hundred pins to spare.
Finishing third, only Denmark's Tim Stampe and Dan Østergaard-Poulsen managed to claim a medal-guaranteeing spot during Squad 3, becoming Italy's rivals in the semifinals.
In the semifinal, Tim Stampe and Dan Østergaard-Poulsen kept pace with the Italians, exchanging strikes and nerves-filled open frames. Each team was capable of stepping up to the finals, but Nicola Pongolini and Antonino Fiorentino were the ones who made crucial strikes in the last frames to seal the deal with a final result of 438-400.
The other semifinal between Sweden and the Netherlands gifted fans in attendance and watching at home on YouTube one of the greatest EMC games of all time.
Last year's Doubles champions Jesper Svensson and James Blomgren scored 268 and 267 accordingly, putting together an enormous 535 total. Nevertheless, it could have not been enough, as Mark Jacobs converted a solid 239 game, while his teammate Jord Van Weeren had consecutive strikes. On top of that, Van Weeren made another one in the tenth frame, being only two strikes away from shutting down the Swedes and the second perfect game for the Netherlands in the EMC 2023.
Sadly for him and in big favor for Sweden, The Flying Dutchman crashed into the rough stony Swedish shores. Van Weeren's following shot fell short and he ended up with 286 and 525 total for the Netherlands.
Nicola Pongolini and Antonino Fiorentino had met Sweden's Jesper Svensson and James Blomgren last year, in a trios event. That time Italy won against Sweden in the semifinal by 4 pins and took trios gold shortly after, promising another great bowling desert for spectators.
Blomgren and Pongolini matched each other strike for strike up to the seventh frame, Fiorentino left a 4-6 split in the second but managed to make nine consecutive strikes shortly afterward, and Svensson had five strikes in the eighth frame with a good chance to close the game in 250's. Even Federico Fellini couldn't write a better final than this. In the end, Italy closed the game 534-482.
Gold medal - Nicola Pongolini / Antonino Fiorentino (Italy)
Silver medal - Jesper Svensson / James Blomgren (Sweden)
Bronze medal - Tim Stampe / Dan Østergaard-Poulsen (Denmark) | Mark Jacobs / Jord Van Weeren (Netherlands)
After the win in the Doubles event, Grandi Ragazzi is now in fourth place in the World Championships qualification.
Twelve best European countries at the European Men Championships will acquire a spot in the World Bowling Championships in Kuwait. Some countries decided to opt out of the World Championships, while some others are in considerations.
On June 13th, the trios category begins at the Cristal Bowling in Wittelsheim, France. All championship activities will be held from the 7th to the 17th of June.