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All eyes on San Juan, Iloilo, Laguna


WITH all eight quarterfinals berths in both the Northern and Southern Conferences already taken, the battle for the positioning resumes Wednesday in the final three rounds of the 2021 Professional Chess Association of the Philippine (PCAP) All-Filipino tournament.

Northern Conference topnotcher San Juan Predators battle Quezon City Simba’s Tribe and Pasig Pirates, while Southern Conference frontrunner Iloilo Kisela Knights meet Cordova Dagami Warriors and Iriga City Oragons in their bid to solidify their hold of the top spot going into the playoffs.

Both San Juan and Iloilo have identical 27-4 win-loss records with only three rounds left in the 24-team tournament supported by San Miguel Corporation.

As the No. 1 team in their respective divisions, the Predators and the Knights are set to meet the No. 8 squad, the lowest-placed team in the quarterfinals.

San Juan is actually tied with the Laguna Heroes at 27-4, but holds the tiebreaker with more points scored, 457.5 to 451.

Laguna squares off against Isabela Knight Raiders (10-21) and Manila Indios Bravos (23-8) in its bid to hold on to the No. 2 spot.

A close third in the Northern Conferecne is the Caloocan Load Manna Knights, who hold a 26-5 record.

Caloocan will take on Cagayan Kings (5-26) and Isabela.

In the South, Camarines Soaring Eagles (26-5) and Negros Kingsmen ( 26-5) hope to keep pace with Iloilo and maintain their 1-2-3 standings.

Camarines tackles playoff-bound team Lapu-Lapu City Naki Warriors (14-17) before facing Negros.

Before battling Camarines, Negros will take on also-ran Surigao Fianchetto Checkmates (8-23).

Antipolo Cobras , the No. 8 team in the North, and Cordova, the No. 8 squad in the South, need only to win one of their remaining three assignments to make it to the playoffs.

The Cobras and the Dagami Warriors are already three wins ahead of the No. 9 teams — Isabela and Surigao.

PCAP president-commissioner Atty. Paul Elauria said the elimination round ends on March 20, while the playoffs will be played on March 24.

Assisting Elauria are PCAP Chairman Michael Angelo Chua and treasurer atty. Arnel Batungbakal.

The PCAP is the first government-licensed professional chess league under the Games and Amusements Board (GAB), headed by Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra.