ILOILO CITY — Struggling the whole game on the offensive end, Aaron Jeruta made the most important basket of the contest for Iloilo United.
The 5-foot-10 Jeruta buried a layup over the outstretched hands of Zamboanga guard Robin Roño with 12.4 seconds remaining in the game, just as the shot clock expired before forcing misses on the other end.
That shot by the former Centro Escolar University standout lifted Iloilo United to a 60-58 victory over Zamboanga-Family’s Brand Sardines in the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Cup here at the University of San Agustin Gym, Saturday.
“Doon sa game winner ko, pinagkatiwalaan ako ng coaches ko kahit na ang pangit talaga ng laro ko, sa tingin nila may mailalabas pa ako come crunch time,” said Jeruta, who was part of the San Juan Knights squad that won it all last season.
The victory pushed Iloilo to the fifth spot in the Southern Division over Zamboanga by half-a-game, 16-10 compared to 16-11.
Before his game-winner, Jeruta was a woeful 1-of-6 from the field, missing all four of his shots from the two-point area.
But the homegrown Ilonggo was not fazed by his bad night as his coaches still trusted him down the stretch and he just gladly returned the favor.
“Ilang game nang gigil na gigil siya. Sa wakas naman ay nabigyan siya ng chance for that bucket,” said Royals head coach Eric Gonzales.
Jeruta ended up with five points, seven rebounds, four assists, but more importantly, he powered his team to their first win in three tries here in their home court.
“Nanalo rin kami sa wakas dito sa home court namin after three games. Sobrang nakakatuwa makita yung mga fans na nageenjoy sila dahil sa wakas nakapanalo na kami dito,” said the Brgy. Tigbak, Jaro, Iloilo native.
Story by Justin Valencia
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