Hard work pays off for GM Barcenilla after guiding Laguna Heroes to PCAP crown

Published April 5, 2021, 1:40 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

Grandmaster Banjo Barcenilla
Grandmaster Banjo Barcenilla

A focused mind and team support became the key ingredients for the Laguna Heroes in clinching the historic first Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) All Filipino Conference crown at the expense of the Camarines Soaring Eagles recently.

Grandmaster Banjo Barcenilla, who posed as the team captain, admitted they threaded through one tough matchup after another starting in the playoffs to achieve the coveted title.

Prior to surviving Camarines in an Armageddon match, 2-1, Laguna also had to overcome the San Juan Predators in the Northern Division Final and the Manila Indios Bravos in the semifinal in Armageddon duels with identical 3-0 scores.

“Nung nakuha namin first set (against Camarines) na malaki lamang namin sabi ko eto na, this is it. Pero nung nakatabla sila sa blitz dun nako kinabahan. So sabi ko, focus lang kasi minsan yun ang nakaka-cost sa laro eh, yung kaba,” Barcenilla said.

GM John Paul Gomez agreed, adding that the confidence that his teammates are givng to him not only during the finals, but throughout the conference helped.

“Nagma-matter yung control ng kaba mo sa approach mo dun sa laro. On theory, madaling sabihin pero sa actual, mahirap gawin. Pero yung confidence na binibigay ng teammates mo, mas lumalaki yung chance mo na manalo,” Gomez said.

“Si GM Banjo (Barcenilla) talaga yung nagbibigay ng advice samin palagi kaya ang laking bagay.”

Barcenilla’s passion and dedication to help his team achieve what they have now has been evident since Day 1. Based in the United States, Barcenilla had to wake up in the wee hours to play on the scheduled match in Philippine time.

When he found it hard to adjust, he decided to change his sleeping routine.

“Noong una gigising ako ng 3 a.m. para sa 4 a.m. match. Pero nahirapan akong mag-adjust kaya hindi na lang ako natutulog. Diretsong laro na lang,” Barcenilla said.

Barcenilla’s sacrifices, as well as the rest of the team, paid off.

“Sabay-sabay kaming nag-peak,” Gomez said of his teammates. “Dati paniniwala ko kahit magkakagalit kayo, kaya mo pa ring laruin yung match mo. Pero iba pa rin talaga yung may suporta ka ng teammates kaya siguro nag-iba na tingin ko ngayon.