Bacolod City—Nueva Ecija found a savior in John Bryon Villarias as it subdued gritty Bacolod Bingo Plus, 81-74, in a thriller that started Monday and ended early Tuesday after going through three overtimes here.
Villarias outscored the Bacolodnons, 8-7, including two triples in the third extension to power the unbeaten Rice Vanguards to their ninth straight win in the single round-robin elimination phase of the OKbet-MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) 4th Season presented by Xtreme at the full house University of St. La Salle Gym.
Finding his range at the right time, the 6-foot gunner out of nearby Silay City also canned three charities to knot the count in regulation play, 52-52.
In the first extension, veteran Mark Yee drilled in a triple as Bacolod sent the nightcap of the “City of Smiles Invasion” into second overtime at 57-57.
Yee split his charities to give Bacolod a 67-64 lead, but Villarias calmly drilled in a triple with 5.7 seconds left to extend the game anew.
Bacolod was still ahead at 72-71, until Villarias and JR Taganas, who completed a 3-point play, dropped a 9-2 salvo that sent local fans to the exit, 80-74, with 39 seconds to go.
Villarias poured 16 points in the extra periods and wound up with 24 points to go with 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. He was supported by Jay Collado, who clustered 8 points in the fourth quarter, and finished with 17 points and 6 rebounds for Nueva Ecija, which overcame the absence of head coach Jerson Cabiltes.
Yee carried the fight for Bacolod, which dropped to 4-3, with 19 points and 17 rebounds, followed by Edrian Lao with 11 points and 7 rebounds.
Earlier, Jaycee Marcelino delivered 21 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to lift Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines to a come-from-behind 86-82 victory over Valenzuela XUR Homes Realty Inc.
Zamboanga, which also got 12 points from Jefferson Comia and 10 points plus 10 rebounds and 7 assists from Jaycee’s twin brother, Jayvee, climbed to 7-0.
Jaycee, who only had five points after three quarters, also tallied 6 rebounds and 4 assists for Coach Vic Ycasiano.
Valenzuela, which got 18 points from Ronjay Buenafe, 16 from Patrick Cabaug, 11 from Kevin Ray Villafranca and 10 from Jaymar Gimpayan tumbled to 4-5.
The four teams here switch opponents on Tuesday, with Nueva Ecija battling Valenzuela at 7 p.m. and Zamboanga tackling Bacolod at 9 p.m.