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Tamsi, Jeruta take charge as Iloilo edges out Pampanga

by Jim Lemuel Wilson, October 03, 2019 9:27pm

Al-Francis Tamsi and Aaron Jeruta led the way for Iloilo as the United Royals proved to be better late in the game and beat the Pampanga Giant Lanterns, 76-70, in a tightly-contested ball game on Thursday in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Pampanga led 22-18 at the end of the first quarter before Iloilo took a 31-29 lead at the half. The Royals were also ahead 55-53 at the start of the fourth quarter before Felix Apreku tied the game at 64-64 on an inside incursion off a Mark Cruz pass.

Tamsi then nailed a three-pointer off a Richard Escoto pass to give his team the lead. Travis Thompson replied with a pair of free throws for the Giant Lanterns, but Jeruta broke down Michael Juico’s and Pampanga’s defense and scored on an uncontested layup with 2:14 left on the clock.

Juico tried to respond with a quick attack on the next Pampanga possession, but he missed on a layup attempt before Levi Hernandez sent John Mahari to the free throw line with 1:43 to go. Mahari sank both his free throws to give Iloilo a 71-66 advantage.

Reil Cervantes missed on a jump shot attempt in the next Pampanga attack, but Travis Thompson got the offensive rebound and located Felix Apreku for an easy basket underneath to pull the Giant Lanterns to within 68-71 with 1:30 still to play.

Eric Rodriguez and Juico then exchanged two-point baskets and Ryan Arambulo committed a traveling violation with 35.8 ticks left. Mark Cruz, however, missed a jumper for Pampanga before Jeruta sank two free throws, giving Iloilo a 75-70 lead with 16.20 seconds left. Juico then attacked for the Giant Lanterns, but Tamsi blocked his shot before Jeruta had a split from the foul line. Cruz also missed a last-second shot attempt.

Tamsi finished with 18 points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block while Jeruta tallied 13 markers, three boards, six dimes, one interception, and one rejection to power the United Royals to their ninth win in 17 games.

Dexter Maiquez top-scored for the Giant Lanterns with 17 points along with six rebounds, one stea, and two blocks before he needed to exit the game after sustaining a cut on his face in a rebound play. Juico also had 13 points and Cervantes added 12, but Pampanga still got their sixth loss in 16 games.

The United Royals will be up for another huge challenge on October 19 against the Davao Occidental Tigers while the Giant Lanterns will try to bounce back on October 10 versus the Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines.

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