MANILA, Philippines – The last day of inter-division play in the Wesley So Cup, Wednesday, June 23, features some battles between powerhouse teams that not only could have ramifications in the standings, but also could be playoff previews.
The Laguna Heroes and the Iloilo Kisela Knights are both currently in third place of the north and south divisions albeit with slightly different win-loss slates.
The Heroes tote a 17-4 record and are on a 13-match win streak. They have been on a tear since their 18-year-old Ukrainian Grandmaster Kirill Shevchenko joined them.
Shevchenko has been on a tear this year. Last March, he won the FIDE World University Rapid Championship where he defeated Russian GM Mikhail Antipov. And since he hooked up with Laguna, he has an 18-2-0 record. He is on the cusp of the 20-win plateau mark having played only 20 matches while others garnered the same number of wins albeit having played 36 matches.
Shevchenko will probably match up against Iloilo’s 25-year-old Polish GM Kamil Dragun, who since joining the 16-5 Kisela Knights has posted a 17-6-1 record.
Laguna’s second of three GMs, Banjo Barcenilla could lock horns with old comrade, GM Joey Antonio on Board 1 or 2.
Antonio has struggled in the Wesley So Cup with an 11-14-5 record.
As it is, the fate of a team resides not with one player but even others up and down the order.
Laguna will call on FM Austin Jacob Literatus, WIM Karen Jean Enriquez, senior player Efren Bagamasbad, homegrown talents Vince Medina and Kimuel Lorenzo as well as GM John Paul Gomez.
Iloilo isn’t lacking in firepower as they have lady player WFM Charry Ann Meija, NM John Michael Silvederio, Fritz Bryan Porras and Karl Viktor Ochoa.
Laguna and Iloilo will clash in Game One of the Wednesday evening double-header.
In the second game of the day, southern leaders Camarines Soaring Eagles (17-4) battle with the Caloocan LoadManna Knights (17-4).
Powerhouse Camarines has five 20-game winners (GM Mark Paragua, Ellan Asuela, WGM Marie Sebag and her 29-0-3 slate, NM Ronald Llavanes and Virgin Gil Ruaya) and one 30-match winner (Christian Mark Daluz).
The Soaring Eagles look to get back on another win streak after they lost both their matches last Saturday, June 19. This past Monday, Camarines bounced back with wins over Isabela and Cavite.
The LoadManna Knights are another powerhouse squad led by their trio of International Masters Paulo Bersamina, Jan Emmanuel Garcia and Malaysian Jimmy Liew (22-10-6) who has provided a welcome lift.
They also have WNM Arvie Lozano, FM Nelson Villanueva, Barlo Nadera and Paul Sanches.
Wednesday evening is the final day for inter-division matches, after which all squads engage in the second round elimination matches of PCAP’s Wesley So Cup.
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