MANILA, Philippines – No one expected the Isabela Knight Raiders to give the Manila Indios Bravos trouble in the quarterfinal battle of the Wesley So Cup. More so after Manila took the first set, 16-5, beat them twice in the eliminations, and handled them as well in the recent All-Filipino Cup.
The Knight Raiders summoned their pride and talent to take the second set, 11-10, and send the outcome into sudden death Armageddon.
With the Indios Bravos leading 5-2 in blitz chess in the second set, it looked like another cakewalk. However, Isabela, finally getting enough support for their wondrous Vietnamese import WGM Mai Hung Thi Nguyen, saw Manny Senador best Yosef Taher, NM Gerardo Cabellon stun GM Ino Sadorra, and homegrown player Anwar Cabugatan turn back Jerome Balico for a 9-5 win and a total of 11-10.
When push came to shove, Manila coolly blew away Isabela’s hopes for an upset in Armageddon when they fielded the unusual lineup of Deniel Causo, Balico and Taher, who all chalked up wins against Nguyen, Senador and Cabellon respectively, 3-0, to advance to the semi-finals of the Northern Division.
Despite the loss, Isabela can look back at their ascent in the Northern division. They finished 10-24 in the All-Filipino Cup. In the second conference Wesley So Cup, their elimination round record was 17-17.
In the play-in for the Knight Raiders to get into the play-offs, Isabela survived the upset-conscious Quezon City Simba’s Tribe, to go to the quarterfinals.
For their next phase in their quest for a title, Manila faces All-Filipino champions Laguna on Saturday.
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