San Juan, Iloilo play rubber match for PCAP All-Filipino crown

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
San Juan, Iloilo play rubber match for PCAP All-Filipino crown
Chess stock photo
via istock

MANILA, Philippines — Trilogy. The rubber match. And on Araw ng Kagitingan no less. 

For the third straight conference, to decide the championship in the San Miguel-All Filipino Cup of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines, it is going to come down to the San Juan Predators and the Iloilo Kisela Knights.

The northern kings versus the southern sovereigns. The two most accomplished squads in PCAP will slug it out tonight, April 9, in a two-set series with Armageddon to separate them should they still be level. 

The Kisela Knights pulled the rug from under the Predators in the Wesley So Cup of last year but San Juan retaliated in the season-ending Open Conference. 

Now, in the most prestigious of all three PCAP crown jewels — the All-Filipino Cup — no imports, no guest teams, it’s up for grabs.

San Juan endured a rocky campaign, its worst in four conferences. For the first time in their history, they were shut out from any win in one day when they lost to Iloilo and Davao last February 19. And worse, they lost twice to the erstwhile northern leader Pasig King Pirates in the elimination round. They didn’t look particularly sharp and there were questions about if they had lost their mojo.

However, any talks about their decline have been premature (they did finish 29-5). They defeated Isabela in the quarterfinals, ousted Manila in the semifinals, and stunned Pasig in the division finals to book the Grand Finals date.

Iloilo on the other hand has been quietly chugging around. With much of the attention on Pasig, hard-charging Davao, rising power Zamboanga, and San Juan and skidding Laguna, the Kisela Knights quietly consolidated their power and topped the southern division with a 30-4 record. 

The Kisela Knights made short work of Cagayan de Oro in two sets in the quarterfinals. Stamped their class over Negros in the semifinals. Then throttled Davao in the division championship. 

When the two squads met last February 19, San Juan was without GM Oliver Barbosa and IM Rolando Nolte. And yet, the outcome was close, 11.5-9.5. 

How San Juan will line-up their seven boards is sort of a given. How Iloilo will be isn't. GM Joey Antonio can slide from the top two boards to the senior board. Should he play on Board 4, it is seen that he has an advantage over Predators' counterpart, Ricky de Guzman.

The homegrown boards are just as crucial. After all, the moves aren’t only on the board but in the game-time roster.

At the same time San Juan and Iloilo play for the trophy, the King Pirates and the Chess Eagles will battle for a podium finish – the third place trophy. 

Game time is set for 7 p.m. with all matches streamed on the Facebook pages of PCAP and the four teams. 


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