DAVE Moralde scored 19 points, Gelo Vito hit crucial baskets in the endgame, and University of the Philippines beat Mapua, 67-63, on Monday in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup at the San Juan Arena.
Moralde spearheaded the attack before Vito converted important baskets as the Maroons opened the tournament with a bang.
Vito tied the game at 62 with 1:47 left in the fourth after Bien de la Rosa converted a triple for Mapua.
Vito scored again with 15.4 seconds left for a 66-63 lead, and De la Rosa missed a potential game-tying triple for the Cardinals.
"We worked really hard and we believe in playing defense. In the end, defense won the game for us," said UP acting head coach Joe Ward.
"Any win is big no matter who you play," said Ward.
UP spoiled the effort of Mapua's Nigerian import Alwell Oraeme, who grabbed 29 rebounds for the Cardinals.
UP (67) - Moralde 19, Prado 9, Desiderio 8, Lao 8, Vito 6, Amar 3, Juruena 2, Dario 2, Gallarza 2, Asilum 2, Kone 2, Jaboneta 2, Longa 2, Lim 0, Harris 0, Tekoudjou 0, Romero 0.
Mapua (63) - Oraema 14, Isit 13, Dela Rosa 11, Nimes 9, Que 6, Brana 4, Serrano 4, Nieles 2, Stevens 0, Layug 0, Villasenor 0.
Quarterscores: 13-10; 32-28; 48-45; 67-63.