The Iloilo United Royals-Cocolife returned to the 2023 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League with an 80-73 victory over the Bacolod City of Smiles last Saturday, June 24, 2023, at the Bataan People’s Center.
Iloilo and Bacolod have been dubbed one of the Southern Division’s underdogs, making this match versus Bacolod an actual survival game.
The Iloilo team had dropped five straight games before returning with a complex offense that caught up with them. The squad struggled to find their outside shot in the first quarter but found an excellent range for their shoots in the second quarter.
Ilo-ilo ruled the first half 41-39, led by Justin Sanchez, who set the tone. Jerald Sumiho‘s wild shot in the first half also greatly aided in winning the first half.
Sanchez was named “Player of the Game” after scoring 20 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, and a 3/3 free throw. His performance speaks volumes about their ambition of winning the game and getting back on track for the MPBL.
Sanchez’s joy was evident, as they had already ended their five-game losing streak. According to him, they did their best and followed the advice of their head coach, which was to show energy, particularly in the second quarter.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Bacolod City was still within striking distance at 68-70, but Iloilo’s hard offense, along with a three-pointer by Joshua Flores, two free throws by JR Ongteco, and a layup by Sanchez, helped Iloilo to pull away with a 78-68 advantage with over a minute remaining.
On July 1, Bacolod City will meet the Rizal Xentro Mall Golden Coolers, while Iloilo will face Negros Pau Muscovados, another Western Visayas squad, on June 30.
The MPBL visits the FilOil EcoOil Centre today, June 26, with a triple bill that includes Manila vs. Valenzuela at 4 p.m., Pasay vs. Pampanga at 6 p.m., and Batangas vs. San Juan at 8 p.m.
Stand united with your team at okbet.com