MPBL: Villarias' hot hand powers Bataan to seventh straight win

Bob Guerrero on Nov 21, 2019 09:31 AM
MPBL: 1Bataan clips Nueva Ecija in front of home fans
Byron Villarias went five out of eight from three-point range en route to 23 points for 1Bataan.

The 1Bataan Risers won a Central Luzon smackdown on Wednesday, defeating the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards, 71-60, in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Season.

The home fans in the Bataan People's Center in the provincial capital of Balanga were treated to a solid performance from their team that brings their slate to 14-8 with a 7th straight win.

Nueva Ecija, despite enjoying traveling support of over 1000 Novo Ecijanos, tumble to 5-16 with a third straight setback.

Riser Ryan Batino compiled 15 first-half points, but it was the visitors who were on top 35-34. thanks to Arvin Tolentino's 11 points and Jai Reyes' 10.

In the third, the Risers took the lead then put some distance between them and their opponents. Byron Villarias knocked in a pair of corner threes followed by another trey from top of the key to electrify the home crowd and grab a 54-43 lead. The period ended with Bataan up 55-48.

A Jimbo Aquino triple capped a mini-run by the visitors that pulled them within two, 57-55, with seven minutes left in the fourth.

1Bataan's reply was ruthless: a 10-1 run birthed by a pair of buckets from Gino Jumao-as that effectively sealed the deal for the home side. Villarias hit five of his eight attempts from beyond the arc as he led all scorers with 23 points. Batino ended up with 21. Arvin Tolentino was the Rice Vanguard's best producer with 16 markers.

Meanwhile, the Rizal Golden Coolers - Xentro Mall finally ended weeks of frustration by defeating Sarangani Province, 77-73, in the first tip-off, ending an eight-game losing skid and collecting a fourth win in 20 games.

Homegrown Rizaleno Patrick Bacay was the main man for the Golden Coolers, scoring 18 points for JV Gayoso's team.

Xentro Mall led 42-29 at the half before the Sarangans awoke in the third quarter, pouring in 24 points, seven from Orin Catacutan, to trim the lead to 4, 57-53 at the beginning of the fourth period.

Catacutan erupted in the fourth quarter with 17 big points, but Jayvee Vidal and Joemari Lacastesantos sealed the deal in the end from the charity stripe.

Sarangani, who played as the SOCCSKSARGEN Marlins up until a few weeks ago, remain rooted at the foot of the South Division table with 21 losses in 21 games, despite Catacutan's game-high 31 points.

In the early evening match-up, the Bicol Volcanoes LCC Stores fashioned a workmanlike 79-68 win over the Paranaque Patriots - Yabo Sports.

Bicol skipper Ronjay Buenafe was, as usual, a cut above the rest with 20 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and a pair of shot blocks.

LCC Stores led 44-32 at the half and 64-51 after three periods. Yabo Sports was unable to make much of a dent in the Bicol lead in the fourth until Keith Pido rifled in a pull-up jumper that got the Paranaquenos to within nine, 73-64 with three and a half minutes to go.

The Volcanoes responded brilliantly, with Buenafe drawing the defense then dishing to a waiting Chris Lalata at the baseline. The forward produced a rim-rattling two-handed dunk for a 75-64 cushion. Jerome Garcia and Buenafe then produced a pair of baskets to finally confirm the result.

Monel Kallos' Bicol team is now at 12-11 and riding a 4-game win streak, perfectly poised to grab a playoff spot in the South Division.

Paranaque, on the other hand, are languishing outside the playoff zone at 8-14. Topscoring for the Patriots was James Abugan with 18.

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