ILOILO CITY – Struggling for most of the game on the offensive end, Aaron Jeruta still made the most important basket of the contest for Iloilo United.
Jeruta buried a layup over the outstretched arms 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.
Jeruta's bucket lifted Iloilo United to a 60-58 victory over Zamboanga-Family's Brand Sardines in the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Cup at the University of San Agustin Gym in Iloilo City, 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 a season ago.
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.
The homegrown Ilonggo was unfazed by his bad shooting night, however, as his coaches still trusted him with the ball down the stretch.
Jeruta was glad to repay their trust.
"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 on their home court.
"Nanalo rin kami sa wakas dito sa home court namin after three games. Sobrang nakakatuwa makita 'yung mga fans na nag-e-enjoy sila dahil sa wakas nakapanalo na kami dito," said the Brgy. Tigbak, Jaro, Iloilo native.
In the opening game, San Juan-Go for Gold continued its dominance of Davao Occidental-Cocolife, 84-65, in the rematch of the Datu Cup Finals.
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