PALARONG Pambansa 2009 gold medal performer Austin Jacob Literatus will have to rely on a new partner to defend the title in the Davao Region Athletic Association (Davraa) Meet chess competition.

The event was set on March 18 to 20 in Mati, Davao Oriental.

Department of Education (DepEd) Davao Physical Education and School Sports (Pess) supervisor 1 Jimmy Cerrojales said Literatus, a Don Juan dela Cruz Central Elementary School mainstay, will have to carry the load of the city's title-retention bid in elementary boys team event.

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It can be recalled that Literatus, who hails from Toril, paired with fellow Vietnam Asean Group Chess Championships gold medalist John Ray Batucan last year for the team gold in the Davraa Meet and Palarong Pambansa in Tacloban, but their partnership suffered a big blow after Batucan failed to qualify for the Davraa meet this time.

"We still have a strong elementary chess team that might again make it all the way to Palaro. Literatus' partner will be from Jose Maria College. Our elementary girls team will also be a strong bet as it is being bannered by the city's top girl players Rowelyn Joy Acedo of JMC and Donna Yngayo of Davao Central College," Cerrojales said in a phone interview Friday.

He said the city is also pinning its hopes in secondary boys and girls volleyball, secondary boys volleyball and secondary girls softball since their rosters still have also been medal performers in Tacloban.

Cerrojales said the screening of athletes' eligibility requirements for the Davraa Meet will start on February 15 at the Davao City National High School.

"We are confident that all our athletes are eligible with proper documentation from the National Statistics Office (NSO). We are ready to compete and defend our No. 1 position in both elementary and secondary divisions of the Davraa Meet," he said.

Davao City will play against the selection of Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley, Panabo City, Davao Oriental, Island Garden City of Samal, Digos City and Tagum City in most events. (MLSA)