ILOILO – Iloilo United Royals captain Aaron Jeruta had seen his team miss twice in the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan season. When the Royals returned to their third and final home game in the elimination round last Saturday, Jeruta, the pride of the city of Jaro in the province, made sure that the result was different. Jeruta stood up for the winner's basket by 12 seconds when the Royals rolled back the Zamboanga Family Brand Sardines (60-58) to increase their chances of gaining a home advantage in the playoffs.
The audience, who stayed at the University's San Agustin Gym until almost midnight, were rewarded with an exciting finish that saw Jeruta break the final impasse of the game before helping Iloilo get a stop, the Zamboanga in the last Seconds refused.
"We have already lost twice here so as not to disappoint our audience," said Jeruta, an outstanding member of Centro Escolar University who moved from San Juan last season to the Iloilo team as his best to lead local players.
Jeruta had fought throughout the game, like most royals. Iloilo failed to make a single basket out of the two-point zone in the entire first half. In the Royals' three-point shots, however, Al Tamsi only hit five to keep the home team within striking distance before a late attack. Rey Publico was 58: 56 behind, but Santi Santillan ended the game with a one-handed shot close to the three-point line.
The victory allowed Iloilo fifth place with a 16-10 record. Zamboanga is on 16-11. INQ
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