Bombers halt fall, nip StagsBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Byron Villarias exploded for 28 points as Jose Rizal U stunned San Sebastian, 82-74, last night to boost its Final Four hopes in the 88th NCAA basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Upholding his reputation as a clutch player in big games, the 6-foot guard poured 20 of his total output in the first half where the Bombers built enough cushion that helped them weather the Stags’ charge in the last two quarters.
Although they remained in fifth spot, the Bombers remained within a game off third-placed teams Letran and Perpetual Help, which face separate opponents on Saturday.
With Villarias at the helm, the Bombers were firing on all cylinders in the first half, leading by as large as 23 points at one point.
The Stags woke up in the second half, cutting the lead to two points in the final period, before the Bombers showed steely resolve and hung on for the precious victory.
Calvin Abueva spearheaded the fightback with 26 points, but last season’s MVP could do little to stop the Bombers down the stretch.
He scored on a layup with 1:44 remaining to trim the gap, 74-76, but Villarias drove for a basket to restore order. Jordan Dela Paz hit two critical free throws to wrap up the win for the Bombers, who improved to 10-7.
Earlier, Arellano U surpassed its win total from last season with a 58-48 dumping of Lyceum.
ARELLANO 58—Forrester 24, Acidre 9, Pinto 6, Hernandez 5, Cadavis 4, Caperal 4, Salcedo 4, Bangga 2, Lunas 0, Palma 0.
LYCEUM 48—Ko 22, Zamora 11, Azores 8, Mallari 6, Garcia 2, Ambohot 0, Martinez 0, Pascual 0, Edding 0.
Quarters: 13-10, 30-21, 48-37, 58-49
JRU 82—Villarias 28, Matute 12, Lopez 12, Mendoza 8, Mabulac 7, Monserat 7, Porter 4, Dela Paz 2, Maconocido 2, Salaveria 0, Camasura 0, Munez 0.
SAN SEBASTIAN 74—Abueva 26, Sangalang 25, Maiquez 9, Pascual 5, Vitug 4, Antipuesto 2, Miranda 2, Gusi 1, Balucanag 0, Dela Cruz 0, Rebollos 0, Binuya 0.
Quarters: 28-14, 56-36, 65-57, 82-74