By Adrian Stewart Co
The Iloilo United Royals fell 65-59 to the Batangas City Athletics last Thursday in the ongoing 2019-2020 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Cup at Angeles University Foundation in Pampanga.
Down by as much as 17 points in the opening half, the Royals pulled off a huge run in the third quarter behind Richard Escoto and Aaron Jeruta and got to within 50-43.
The Royals pulled even closer, narrowing their deficit to 52-48 early in the fourth off back-to-back hits from Rey Publico and Escoto. However, a triple by Athletics guard Jeff Viernes, along with hits from Roldan Sara and Rey Suerte, gave Batangas a 59-52 edge.
Three-pointers from Publico and Al Francis Tamsi gave Iloilo a boost, getting to within 63-59, but free throws by Viernes and Sara sealed the victory for Batangas.
Viernes finished with a double-double for Batangas City with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Sara and Jason Melano each added 10 markers.
Meanwhile, despite the loss, Tamsi tallied 16 points for Iloilo, including three outside conversions./ASC, WDJ