MANILA, JUNE 5, 2006 (STAR) The Philippines’ women’s squad pulled off a stirring 2.5-0.5 victory over 34th-ranked Estonia to gain a share of 14th place even as the RP men’s team got stalled by a draw by Switzerland and remained in joint 33rd in the penultimate round of the World Chess Olympiad in Turin, Italy Saturday.

Catherine Pereña and Beverly Mendoza beat Monika Tsiganova and Valeria Gansvind, respectively, while Sherily Cua halved the point with Victoria Bashkite to complete the surprising victory for the 60th-ranked Filipina chessers.

The win gained the gritty RP ladies a share of 14th place with 21.5 points heading into the final round of the 13-round tournament where they are pitted against another top-notch rival Slovenia.

Others in the group are Vietnam, Cuba, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

The RP women’s squad finished joint 48th in the last Olympiad in Mallorca, Spain with a final round victory or even a draw with the 17th seed Slovenia ensuring the team’s best-ever performance in the biennial meet.

The RP ladies’ top 20 finish in the 1998 Olympiad in Greece stood as the country’s best thus far.

The team will pin its hopes again on Pereña, who will take on Anna Muzychuk, while Cua and Mendoza clash with Ana Srebrnic and Jana Krivec, respectively.

Slovenia is also coming off a 2-1 victory over 16th-seeded Slovakia.

In the men’s side, rookie Oliver Dimakiling shocked IM Richard Forster on board 4 to force a 2-2 draw with Switzerland as GM Mark Paragua squirmed in time trouble and lost to veteran campaigner GM Viktor Korchnoi on the top board.

GMs Eugene Torre and Joey Antonio split the point with GMs Yannick Pelletier and Florian Jenni, respectively, as RP barely moved up to joint 33rd with 27 points in a tie with Switzerland, India, Belarus, Iran, Slovakia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Italy-B,and 26th-seeded Brazil.

The Brazilians will be the Filipinos’ final round opponent with the latter hoping to eke out a win to salvage a place in the top 20 and at least match the team’s 19th place finish in Spain.

Team skipper Samuel Estimo will stick it out with Paragua, Torre, Antonio and Dimakiling against GMs Giovanni Vescovi, Gilberto Milos and Jaime Sunye and IM Alexander Fier, respectively.

Third seed Armenia held France to a 2-2 standoff to remain on top with 34 points, 2.5 points ahead of China, which pooled 31.5 points after beating the Czech Republic, 3-1. Russia squad also scored a 3-1 victory over Cuba for third with 31 points.

In women’s play, Ukraine crushed India, 2.5-0.5, to stay at the helm with 28 points. Top seed Russia has 26 after a 1.5-1.5 draw with France.

Sta. Lucia goes out with bang By Nelson Beltran The Philippine Star 06/05/2006

Sta. Lucia Realty, the season’s worst performer, gave itself some solace last night with a triumphant farewell game in an atrocious 2005-06 campaign.

The Realtors went on a rampage in the second quarter and closed out their Gran Matador Brandy PBA Philippine Cup stint with a 113-101 rout of the Talk n Text Phone Pals at the Araneta Coliseum.

Seven Realtors, led by Kenneth Duremdes with 24 points, scored in double figures as Sta. Lucia ended its campaign on a winning note which it hoped to spill over next season.

With nine players with expiring contracts and two first round picks in the coming Annual Rookie Draft, Sta. Lucia coach Alfrancis Chua said they’re likely to make some changes in their lineup.

"It all depends on who will make themselves available in the draft. But we’re looking for a big man or two big men if possible to help out Dennis Espino and Marlou Aquino," said Chua.

With a lineup battered by injuries, the Realtors collected only 12 wins against 25 losses in the 2005-06 campaign — the worst by the team since posting an 11-28 win-loss record in 1994.

"We played with a complete lineup only in our first three games this season. We’re not spared by injuries up to our last game. Tonight, we lost Paolo Mendoza in the second quarter," said Chua.

Talk n Text finished a few games better with a closing 18-23 record that matched its showing in 2001.

Curiously, the Pals suffered this disappointing season right after their best-ever showing — in terms of number of wins and winning percentage – in franchise history last year.

Sta. Lucia and Air21 — with its rights acquired from Talk n Text through trade — dispute the top pick in the coming draft in a lottery during the finals.

Duremdes went 4-of-10 from the three-point area, 4-of-6 from the two-point zone and 4-of-5 from the stripe for 24 points that went with six assists and five rebounds.

Espino also had huge numbers with 19 points, nine rebounds and seven assists with Aquino adding 13 points, Nelbert Omolon 12, Alex Cabagnot 11 and Ricky Calimag and Mendoza 10 apiece.

Asi Taulava and Harvey Carey combined for 46 points and 23 rebounds as they churned out double-double games for the Phone Pals.

"We treat as very important all our games. And we’re specially fired up tonight because we’re frustrated with our loss to Ginebra the last time out," said Chua.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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