Villarias leads NLEX past Fruitas
MANILA, Philippines – Byron Villarias shook off his shooting slump to help defending champion NLEX stretch its winning streak to five with a 75-66 win over Fruitas Monday in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the JCSGO Gym in Cubao.
Villarias caught fire from downtown – nailing four in the second half – that sparked a 10-0 run by the Road Warriors to close the third quarter where they turned a seven-point deficit to a 56-53 lead with all the momentum on their side.
“Byron (Villarias) is back. I’m happy he finally regained his touch,” said NLEX head coach Boyet Fernandez.
“The boys really wanted to win. This is their send-off gift for me and I’m really happy with the gesture,” added Fernandez, who will be joining the San Beda Red Lions in their US training as part of their buildup for the coming NCAA Season 89.
Fernandez, who will be temporarily replaced by assistant coach Adonis Tierra, will miss his squad’s next two games against league-leader Blackwater and Informatics. “But I will try to be back for our scheduled matchup with EA Regen on May 14.”
Villarias ended up with 16 points while forwards Nico Salva and Matthew Ganuelas had 10 each for NLEX, which moved into a tie with Cafe France in second place with a 5-2 slate.
The win also enhanced the Road Warriors’ chances of seizing an outright semifinals berth.
“That has always been our goal. We are in a position to accomplish it. We just have to keep on doing the things that keeps us successful,” Fernandez said.
The Shakers, who were paced by Carlo Lastimosa’s 16 points, have now lost three out of their last four games after starting the conference atop the standings at 3-0.
NLEX 75 – Villarias 16, Salva 10, Ganuelas 10, Lanete 9, Pascual J. 8, Pascual R. 8, Long 4, Hermida 4, Camson 4, Alas 4.
Fruitas 66 – Lastimosa 16, Escobal 15, Caram 10, Cruz 9, Escoto 4, Colina 4, Tolomia 3, Mendoza 3, Antonio 2, Banal 0, Pogoy 0.
Quarters: 18-14; 38-38; 53-53; 75-66.
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