Getting lift from Jeruta, Iloilo fans hope of gaining home-court edge
ILOILO—Iloilo United Royals captain Aaron Jeruta had watched his team fall short twice at home in the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Season. So when the Royals returned for their third and final home game in the elimination round last Saturday night, Jeruta, the pride of Jaro town of this province, made sure the outcome would be different. Jeruta powered his way for the game-winning basket with 12 seconds remaining as the Royals turned back Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines, 60-58, to boost their chances of gaining home-court advantage in the playoffs.
The crowd that stayed on almost until midnight at University of San Agustin Gym was rewarded with an exciting finish that saw Jeruta break the game’s final deadlock before helping Iloilo put together a stop that denied Zamboanga in the final seconds.
“We’ve lost here twice already so we didn’t want to disappoint our crowd anymore,” said Jeruta, a standout from Centro Escolar University who moved from San Juan last season to lead the Iloilo team as its top homegrown player.
Jeruta had struggled throughout the game just like most of the Royals. Iloilo failed to make a single basket from the two-point zone in the entire first half. But the Royals’ three-point shooting clicked with Al Tamsi nailing five to help keep the home team stay within striking distance before launching a late assault. Rey Publico scored on a putback for a 58-56 lead, but Santi Santillan sank a one-hander from near the three-point line to tie the game again.
The victory allowed Iloilo to take fifth spot with a 16-10 record. Zamboanga is at 16-11. INQ
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