Mapua Cardinals off to bright start with victory over Akhuetie-led UP Maroons
Exequiel Biteng shines as the Cardinals eclipse Bright Akhuetie and the Maroons. Dante Peralta

MAPUA squeaked past University of the Philippines, 79-78, surviving a monster game from Bright Akhuetie on Sunday in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup in San Juan.

A 12-2 run midway through the fourth shifted the momentum towards the Cardinals' favor, turning a five point deficit to a 67-62 lead with 4:53 to go.

Mapua meticulously took care of the lead as Exie Biteng, who scored seven in that rally, drained the backbreaking basket to give the Cardinals a four-point lead with less than 20 seconds left.

"It's the effort kasi nagusap kami and tinignan kung anong meron kami. We have less big man, we have more small and that’s what we try to do," said Mapua head coach Atoy Co.

"We play fast, we run. In all of basketball ang importante is defense eh. More or more, mananalo ka. Nagform kami kung anong gagawin sa team defense," he added.

Biteng led the way for the Cardinals with 19 points as Eric Jabel added 13 points. Lawrence Victoria also chipped in 12 for Mapua.

Akhuetie paced the Maroons with 30 points and 18 rebounds.

Paul Desiderio and Juan Gomez de Liano, two players playing their third game in less than 24 hours, backed Akhuetie with 13 and 12 respectively.

Desiderio also had 10 assists for UP which dropped to 0-2 in the tournament.

The scores:

Mapua 79 – Biteng 19, Jabel 13, Victoria 12, Serrano 8, Salenga 8, Bonifacio 7, Pelayo 5, Pajarillo 3, Bunag 2, Lugo 2, Aguirre 0, Garcia 0.

UP 78 – Akhuetie 30, Desiderio 13, Gomez de Liano Ju 12, Murrell 9, Lim 4, Gozum 4, Manzo 3, Vito 2, Gomez de Liano Ja 1, Jaboneta 0, Dario 0, Longa 0.

Quarterscores: 19-15; 35-32; 55-56; 79-78.

 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @CAJacinto11