CAPTAIN CLUTCH: Iloilo notches first home win off Jeruta game-winner

The hero, Ilonggo Aaron Jeruta (Christine Jaylo)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The stage was set. The game was tied at 58 with 23 seconds left in the packed gym of the University of San Agustin. Aaron Jeruta stood at midcourt with the ball, knowing he held either euphoria or heartbreak in his hands.

He would not allow his team to fall for a third straight time before the Ilonggo faithful.

With 12 seconds left, the homegrown captain sized up Robin Roño, drove hard to his left, and kissed the game-winning lay-up off the glass snapping the Iloilo United Royals’ two-game losing skid.

The win also halted Zamboanga-Family’s Brand Sardines’ four-game winning streak off a brilliant comeback victory, trailing by as much as 12.

From the jump, It was an uphill battle for the Ilonggos as Zamboanga gave Iloilo’s offense fits with their quick-switching defense to force numerous turnovers.

It was Zamboanga that came raring to start the game as Pasaol, Santillan and Black found their stride early to pad their lead to as much as 12 points.

Iloilo kept themselves within striking distance with a barrage of three-pointers from Al Francis Tamsi and Richard Escoto, but failed to score a single two-point basket until the start of the second half.

Seeing their shots go down gave Iloilo life to start the fourth quarter and managed to tie the game at 55 apiece with 5 minutes to go.

Amid defeaning chants of “DEFENSE”, the United Royals forced several turnovers and generated key defensive stops to give themselves a momentary lead.

With under a minute left in the game, Santillan drilled an equalizer that deadlocked the game at 58 all.

It was then that Jeruta sent the Iloilo crowd into a frenzy as everybody knew they were witnessing history.



Iloilo- Tamsi, 17, Publico 14, Escoto 13, Racho 5, Jeruta 5, Arambulo 3, Prado 2

Zamboanga- Santillan 15, Pasaol 14, Black 8, Roño 6, Reyes 5,