Bowling: Jonovan Neo, 21, wins first international title at Dubai Open

Neo, 21, breaks his international duck by overcoming Goh, 22, in stepladder final

Runner-up Muhd Jaris Goh (left) and champion Jonovan Neo, both of Singapore, with their trophies.
Runner-up Muhd Jaris Goh (left) and champion Jonovan Neo, both of Singapore, with their trophies.PHOTO: SINGAPORE BOWLING FEDERATION

On Singapore Bowling Federation's (SBF) website, Jonovan Neo cites the first time he bowled a perfect game as the most memorable moment in his young career.

The 21-year-old achieved a new high on Saturday after winning his first international title at the Dubai International Bowling Centre (DIBC) Open in the United Arab Emirates.

"I've been in the national team for six years, and I've spent a long time trying to win my first international tournament," Neo told The Straits Times in a phone interview yesterday before returning to Singapore.

"To finally do it feels absolutely fantastic - now my aim is to get another win this year."

In the stepladder final, Neo lost the first game 234-258 pinfalls to compatriot Muhd Jaris Goh, 22, but won the second game 248-201 to take the winner's cheque of 25,000 dirhams (S$8,973).

Runner-up Goh received 12,000 dirhams while the UAE's Khamis Al Shamsi took home 8,000 dirhams after finishing third.

Goh also finished second at the H.H. Emir Cup two weeks ago in Doha behind another Singaporean, Basil Ng, who also won his first international title.

The main assignment for the Republic's bowlers is the Asian Games in Indonesia from Aug 18-Sept 2.

"I already got two second-place finishes, but I cannot assume that I will make the squad. Everyone is pushing his limits to get into that six-man team for the Asian Games," said Goh.

It was a point well proven in Doha and Dubai. In Neo and Ng, Singapore now have two first-time international winners.

And the quality of the male bowlers is evident after Joel Tan (fifth), Darren Ong (seventh) and Timothy Tham (ninth) finished inside the top 10 of an 89-strong field.

Singapore assistant coach Helmi Chew declined to reveal details of the SBF's selection process for the Asian Games.

But he has faith in the quality of the male bowlers, who won the SEA Games team gold in Kuala Lumpur last year.

"The training squad (for the Asian Games) has not been announced yet, but I'm very pleased with the performances here in Dubai," said Chew.

"It is a bonus that good performances have turned into good results.

"But what I want to see from the bowlers is that they continue to focus on the process, because that will eventually bring results."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2018, with the headline 'Singapore 1-2 in Dubai Open'. Subscribe