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Laguna, Camarines win PCAP division finals

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--It will be Laguna versus Camarines for all the marbles after winning their PCAP All-Filipino Conference division finals matches on Wednesday night.

The Heroes took the North pennant after sweeping the San Juan Predators, while the Soaring Eagles stunned the Iloilo Kisela Knights to win the South.

Laguna dominated both the blitz and rapid matches in the first set to go ahead of San Juan, 12.5-8.5.

The Predators, however, somehow recovered in Set 2 after their top players, Grandmaster Oliver Barbosa, FIDE Master Arden Reyes, and Women's International Master Jodi Fronda won their rapid matches to make up for the losses of their homegrown players Michael Gotel, Narquingel Reyes, and Narciso Gumila to eventually force a 10.5-all deadlock.

In the Armageddon, however, the Heroes swept the Predators to finally clinch the North title.

Meanwhile, the South final between Camarines and Iloilo was decided by an Armageddon round as well.

The Soaring Eagles took Set 1, 11.5-9.5, as they scored the needed wins in the rapid games to make up for the Kisela Knights' domination in the blitz.

Iloilo's brilliant blitz performance, however, mattered in Set 2 as their 4-3 win against Camarines in the said matches clinched them the set, 11-10, after both teams settled for a 7-all tie in the rapids.

In the deciding Armageddon matches, Mark Paragua forced fellow GM Joey Antonio to resign after 41 moves in Sicilian defense to give the Eagles their first point.

Karl Ochoa, however, somehow found a way to get past Mark Daluz's own Sicilian defense after banking on time attack to beat him after 46 moves and give the Knights one point.

The clash between Ellan Asuela and Fritz Porras decided the tie as the former, already dominating the match, won on time attack after 56 moves in the Caro-Kann Defense to clinch it for Camarines.

The Heroes and the Soaring Eagles will face off one final time on Saturday night to determine who will be the first ever PCAP champions.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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