Iloilo survives pesky Rizal, racks up winning streak to 6

Jerson Prado, a late addition to the Royals, is paying dividends with his production (Screen grab from MPBL)

By: Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

With almost three weeks of rest from their previous game, the Iloilo United Royals showed no signs of rust, surviving a hungry Rizal Crusaders squad, 71-65, in the 2019 MPBL Lakan Cup.

Homegrown Aaron Jeruta provided the spark that ignited Iloilo with a quick offensive start, getting to the cup at will while diming his teammates underneath.

Iloilo dominated the majority of the first half as Rizal couldn’t keep up with Iloilo’s front-court. Rey Publico, Jerson Prado, and Richard Escoto asserted their size and height advantage inside for easy scores.

The staggering 19 total assists of the United Royals proved to be an edge against Rizal, as the fluid ball movement of Iloilo earned them open looks from rainbow country.

Things started to get interesting in the final frame as Rizal started to rally a late comeback, blitzing to an 18-10 run and eventually took the lead in the 4:00 minute mark of the fourth.

However, coach Eric Gonzales quickly countered the Rizal run by sending in main gunners Escoto and Al Francis Tamsi to stem the tide.

Prado was also a revelation in the game as he anchored the Iloilo defense and provided timely baskets underneath to complete a crucial 6-0 run of his own.

Tamsi then drained the dagger trey to push the lead to 4, 69-65, with 1:11 left in the final frame.

Chalking up 12 huge points, 7 boards, and 2 rejections, the newest Royal was awarded the best player of the game.

“I did not focus on scoring, but I focused more on the defensive end, in my rebounding, and setting the perfect screens for my teammates,” Prado said.



Iloilo- Tamsi 16, Prado 12, Escoto 10, Gumaru 6, Rodriguez 6, Jeruta 6, Parker 4, Publico 4

Rizal- Gregorio 15, Saliente 12, Rios 12, Benitez 7, Lacastesantos 6, Leynes 6