NATIONAL University nearly blew a 10-point lead in the final stretch but held on for an 85-80 win over Mapua on Sunday in the Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup in San Juan.
Matt Salem, JJay Alejandro and Issa Gaye showed the way for the Bulldogs, who rolled to a 3-0 start.
Salem finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, and two assists, while Alejandro also had an all-around outing of 15 points, five rebounds, and nine assists.
Gaye put up a double-double performance of 14 points and 11 boards.
The Bulldogs erected an 85-75 lead on JP Cauilan's three pointer with 1:13 left, and they saw that advantage almost slip through their fingers after Mapua came to within five on Exequiel Biteng's triple.
But time wasn't on the Cardinals' side as NU still went on to hand them their third loss in as many games.
"They kept coming back, good things for us we still hit the big shots. We defended well without fouling. I'm happy with on how we played on boths ends, we still that energy 110 percent everytime," said NU coach Jamike Jarin.
Andrew Estrella led Mapua's balanced attack with 14 points to go with four rebounds, and two assists.
Cedric Pelayo had 13 points, while Christian Bunag and Laurence Victoria each scored 12.
NU 85 — Salem 15, Alejandro 15, Gaye 14, Yu 10, Joson 6, Tibayan 6, Abatayo 4, Lastimosa 4, Cauilan 3, Diputado 2, Flores 2, Morido 2, Galvelo 2, Aquino 0, Bartlett 0, Mosqueda 0, Rangel 0, Sistoza 0.
Mapua 80 — Estrella 14, Pelayo 13, Bunag 12, Victoria 12, Raflores 8, Biteng 6, Serrano 5, Nieles 5, Aguirre 4, Gamboa 1, Gabo 0 , Magboo 0.
Quarterscores: 26-16; 45-41; 70-61; 85-80.