Laguna Heroes eye back-to-back titles in PCAP All-Filipino Cup

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
Laguna Heroes eye back-to-back titles in PCAP All-Filipino Cup
Chess stock photo
Image by Devanath from Pixabay

MANILA, Philippines — It’s funny how on opening day of the San Miguel-All Filipino Cup in this second season of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP), much of the pre-season chatter about title winners mentions the Pasig King Pirates, the San Juan Predators, the Davao Chess Eagles, and the Iloilo Kisela Knights. 

The defending All-Filipino Cup Laguna Heroes are mentioned as well, but as a corollary. “Oh, if the Heroes can get their act together, they can win on any given day.”

However, you cannot discount them at all. Not at all.

Granted John Paul Gomez is now a top board alternate to FM AJ Literatus as Grandmasters are no longer allowed to compete in the homegrown boards, they still have a potent line-up.

GM Banjo Barcenilla is never one to lack confidence. His desire to win, willingness to call a spade a spade, and iron will can help get the W. 

But this is a team sport and for Laguna to repeat, they will need every hand on deck from AJ Literatus, JP Gomez, WNM Karen Jean Enriquez, Michaella Concio, FM Efren Bagamasbad, Vince Angelo Medina, Kimuel Aaron Lorenzo, Richie Jocson and Apollo Agapay to win if they wish.

“It’s going to be an even tougher tournament,” said Barcenilla. “Every team has gotten better. Some even have super teams.”

And teams will no doubt prepare for Laguna who have the distinction of being the first ever champions of PCAP.

“We struggled in the second and third conferences but yet still came close to winning another championship,” the GM admitted. “But now with JP as an alternate, it will be harder. But we like a challenge. So do not count out the Laguna Heroes.”

Summed up Barcenilla, “At least now, we have had weeks to process how we will compete and hopefully, with the new season comes a renewed mindset. I know my teammates are all hungry to compete.”

“Right now, we have to focus, have fun, of course, and take it one game at a time. We will do our best to defend our crown.”

The Laguna Heroes open the 2022 SMC-All-Filipino Cup tonight, January 22, against the Olongapo Rainbow 7 team of FM Rustum Tolentino, Joshua Bautista, Nelson Busa, Angel Orijuela and Edimar Eje. 

The opening ceremony of the second season of PCAP is at 5 pm and will be streamed on the league’s Facebook page as well as the various team pages.


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