BYRON Villarias came up with 14 points in an 18-0 blast that bridged in the third and fourth periods as NLEX defeated Fruitas, 75-66, on Monday at the JCSGO gym in Quezon City for their fifth consecutive victory in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup.
Villarias, a new acquisition from Air21-Jose Rizal University, converted four triples — all in the pivotal run that pulled NLEX ahead 64-53 — and finished with 16 points.
The performance of the former Heavy Bomber helped NLEX improve their win-loss record to 5-2 and gain a share of second place with Café France.
“It’s nice to see Byron Villarias back in his groove,” said Fernandez of his player who converted seven triples against NLEX in the third and deciding game of the Aspirants Cup semifinals last conference.
Fruitas slipped to 4-3 and joined Boracay Rum in fifth spot.
The Road Warriors actually trailed, 46-53, before Villarias sparked the rally.
Back-to-back triples by Villarias handed NLEX the lead, 54-53, before two free throws by Matt Ganuelas gave the Road Warriors a 56-53 lead entering the fourth.
A long two-pointer and two consecutive triples by Villarias extended NLEX’s lead to 11 points, 64-53.
Fruitas hit just a single field goal in a five-minute stretch in the fourth, allowing NLEX to grab a 69-55 advantage.
“Medyo masama lang ’yung start namin nung third quarter. We are just happy to get this win,” said Fernandez, who will leave for Los Angeles on Saturday for a training camp with the San Beda Red Lions in the NCAA.
Carlo Lastimosa had 16 points, while Pong Escobal added 10 points and five rebounds for Fruitas.
NLEX (75) – Villarias 16, Salva 10, Ganuelas 10, Lanete 9, J. Pascual 8, R. Pascual 8, Long 4, Hermida 4, Camson 4, Alas 2.
Fruitas (66) – Lastimosa 16, Escobal 15, Caram 10, Cruz 9, Escoto 4, Colina 4, Tolomia 3, Mendoza 3, Antonio 2, Banal 0, Pogoy 0.
Quarterscores: 18-14; 38-38; 56-53; 75-66.