Iloilo prevails over Bacolod in Southern Division duel

Richard Escoto has been a force the past two games, averaging more than 20 points per game (MPBL FB Page)

By: Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

Keeping their playoffs run alive, the Iloilo United Royals notched their second straight win to trounce rival Bacolod Master Sardines, 89-81, in the 2019 MPBL Lakan Cup.

Coach Eric Gonzales stuck with the starting duo of John Mahari and Donald Gumar after providing effective minutes in their win against Navotas.

The duo established good perimeter defense while also possessing the speed suited for coach Eric’s switching defense.

Coach Nash Racela’s signature motion offense was executed numerous times by Iloilo, providing them good looks from multiple screens and hand-offs, a thing Bacolod did not expect.

As soon as Bacolod acclimated themselves to coach Racela’s scheme, Iloilo countered by going to their run-and-gun attack. The misdirection proved effective to keep Bacolod guessing, allowing Iloilo easy baskets.

Iloilo’s 22-14 first-quarter lead was quickly equalized by Bacolod as their three-point shooting clicked in the second canto, torching Iloilo from the wings.

With plans to equalize Bacolod’s fiery shooting, the United Royals sent in homegrown Ilonggo Andrei Pantin, a designated sniper from Letran College, and did not disappoint as he buried a shot from deep seconds after checking in.

Iloilo then matched their steady offense with good interior defense that gave them the lead at the half, 42-37.

The second half was more of the same as Iloilo managed to keep one step ahead of Bacolod at every turn. Bacolod had their moments but the Royals had an answer each time.

It was in the third canto where Iloilo started to run away with the game, pushing their lead up to 16 by punishing Bacolod in the paint and the charity stripe.

Richard Escoto and Ryan Arambulo started to heat up, sinking baskets from the paint to control the shaded area and help dictate the pace of the game.

Bacolod gave Iloilo a scare in the final frame after ex-PBA player Jopher Custodio caught fire, draining three consecutive threes to cut the lead to 7, 72-65.

Building on his excellent performance the previous game, Escoto bullied every defender that stood his way in the post and sank timely treys to halt Bacolod’s attempts to make a run.

Putting up 22 points to go along with his 7 boards, Escoto was able to garner his second straight player of the game award.

Ilonggo Team captain Aaron Jeruta took over in the clutch moments of the game with 4 big points while gunner Al Francis Tamsi put the exclamation point in the game with a cold-blooded trey coming from a well-designed curl play.



Iloilo- Escoto 22, Parker 15, Heruta 12, Tamsi 10, Arambulo 10, Racho 6

Bacolod- Custodio 22, Javelona 12, Cañada 10, Cauilan 8, Adamos 6