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Aaron Jeruta's game winner lifts Iloilo over Zamboanga at home

Aaron Jeruta won it for the United Royals. MPBL
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Playing in front of his fellow Ilonggos on Saturday night, Aaron Jeruta struggled for Iloilo against Zamboanga in a crucial MPBL Lakan Season game that had huge bearings in the seeding for the Southern Division playoffs, missing all of his first four shots inside the three-point line and going 1-for-6 overall.

But come crunch time, he delivered the layup that mattered the most.

Jeruta sent the University of San Agustin Gym in Iloilo City into frenzy with his game winning basket as Iloilo rallied to beat Zamboanga, 60-58.

Jeruta scored a tough layup past Robin Rono with 12.4 seconds left to break the 58-all tie as the United Royals returned to their winning ways after back-to-back losses that put their bid of making the Top 4 in jeopardy.

"Aaron will always be Aaron. Sa wakas. Ilang game nang gigil na gigil siya. Sa wakas naman ay nabigiyan siya ng chance for that bucket," said coach Eric Gonzales on Jeruta's game-winner.

Zamboanga still had a chance to steal the win, but Anton Asistio and Santi Santillan misfired three-point attempts in the end.

Alfrancis Tamsi led Iloilo, which zoomed to the fifth spot in the South at 16-10, with 17 points, three rebounds, and one steal. Rey Publico added 14 points and nine rebounds.

The team also moved to within a half game of Basilan for fourth place a full game of GenSan for the third seed.

Santillan made 15 markers, five boards, and one block for Zamboanga, which slipped to the sixth seed at 16-11.

The Scores:

Iloilo 60 -- Tamsi 17, Publico 14, Escoto 13, Jeruta 5, Racho 5, Arambulo 3, Prado 2, Parker 1, Gumaru 0, Mahari 0, Pantin 0, Li 0.

Zamboanga-Family's Brand Sardines 58 -- Santillan 15, Pasaol 14, Black 8, Rono 6, Reyes 5, Thiele 3, Villamor 3, Manzo 2, De Vera 2, Bonsubre 0, Asistio 0, Arboleda 0, Morido 0.

Quarters: 11-19, 32-35, 45-51, 60-58.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno