IT was a matter of luck finally running out on Jose Rizal University gunner Byron Villarias.
After exploding for six three-point shots in the fourth quarter and sparking a huge Bombers comeback from 11 points down, the streak shooting guard finally ran smack on a brick wall after his potential game-winning trey in the final three seconds was blocked by Kirk Long, allowing defending champion NLEX to book a return trip to the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup Finals Tuesday.
“Tira lang ng tira,” Villarias, nephew of former PBA players Vernie and Victor and an uncle of Ateneo star Kiefer Ravena, said after exploding for 25 points while going 7-of-12 from beyond the arc in a losing cause.
“Sabi ko sa sarili ko, kapag may open shot ititira ko lang.”
That’s exactly what he did, nailing down six three-pointers to rally Jose Rizal from 48-59 down to within 81-83 with a minute and 48 seconds left in its do-or-die encounter with NLEX.
“Kumpiyansa naman ako na papasok (ang bola), kailangan ko din kasi mag-take charge,” added the JRU shooting guard, who once scored a league-record 36 points in a merciless 100-64 blowout of Fruitas.
Villarias said he owed the scoring explosion to his teammates for giving him the space to operate and pick his shots.
“Binibigyan naman kasi nila (teammates) ako ng magandang screen kaya din ako nakakatira ng ganoon,” he said.
Then again the well dried up in the end.
“Nung bandang huli naubos na yung swerte,” he said.