By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Ilonggo star point guard Aaron Jeruta proved to be the game-changer during the Bacoor Strikers’ impressive 75-55 victory over the Marikina Shoemasters in the ongoing OKBet-Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) last March 21, 2023.
The crafty floor general helped restore order after coming off the bench midway through the opening quarter and immediately delivered momentum-changing plays that quickly evaporated Marikina’s 9-0 lead.
In just a span of five minutes since checking in the ball game, the pride of Jaro, Iloilo handed Bacoor all of its biggest plays after diming the ball two times, grabbing an offensive board which led to a deuce, and two breakaway layups that gave his team a 20-11 lead heading into the second frame.
Jeruta wasn’t done doing damage and ramped his scoring up in the second after two aggressive drives to the basket and a bruising post-up score against the giants of Marikina.
The former guard of the Iloilo United Royals spearheaded the Strikers with 19 big points, eight rebounds, six assists, and two steals to grab Player of the Game honors.
It was all Bacoor in the second half after extending its biggest cushion to 27 points, 67-40, built from a collective effort both offensively and defensively.
Jeruta’s all-around performance helped Bacoor avoid a 1-1 standing and joined Batangas, Quezon, Zamboanga, and Muntinlupa as the only undefeated squads in the Southern division.
Former Arellano University scorer Kraniel Victoria backstopped Jeruta with 10 points while former PBA veteran Mark Yee chipped in seven markers in the come-from-behind win.
Up next for Jeruta and Bacoor is team Valenzuela from the Northern division on March 27, 2023, to be held in Batangas.