ILOILO City – Aaron Jeruta scored a game winner to help the Iloilo United Royals upset Zamboanga Family Sardines, 60-58, in the the 2019-2020 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Lakan Cup on Jan. 18 at the University of San Agustin Gymnasium.
Following a basket by Zamboanga’s Leonard Santillan to tie the score at 58-all, Jeruta drained a toughly-contested layup with 12 seconds left to surge Iloilo with a two-point lead and notch their first-ever home victory.
Jeruta, a native from Jaro, finished the match with five points, seven rebounds and four assists to halt the Royals’ two-game losing skid and improve to a 16-10 win-loss record.
Al Francis Tamsi top-scored with 17 points, Rey Publico chipped in 14 markers and nine boards, while Richard Escoto contributed 13 points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals for Iloilo.
Down 51-43 in the third quarter, the Royals started finding their range in the fourth frame with an inside hit from Escoto and beyond-the-arc baskets by Tamsi and Ryan Arambulo to give Iloilo a 53-52 advantage.
The both teams struggled offensively thereafter, until the Royals took another lead at 58-56 via a free throw and a basket scoring from Publico, but Santillan gave Zamboanga’s last response that tied the game with 45 seconds left.
Santillan finished the match with 15 points, while Alvin Pasaol chipped in 14 marks, eight rebounds and five assist, but he also gave up eight turnovers as Zamboanga dropped to 16-11.
In the first game, Datu Cup champions San Juan-Go for Gold Knights asserted its dominance against Davao Occidental Tigers-Cocolife, 84-65. Orlan Wamar was the Knights’ scoring leader with 15 points./PN