ALMEL Orquina and the other locals did just enough to lift an Allwell Oraeme-less Mapua to a 70-67 squeaker over lowly Emilio Aguinaldo College on Friday in the NCAA Season 92 basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Orquina topscored for the Cardinals with 13 points, while Andrew Estrella and CJ Isit had 12 apiece.
Mapua joined San Beda atop the heap with identical 4-0 win-loss records.
Oraeme sprained his ankle during practice, but is expected to play in their next game against Arellano on Tuesday.
"It's a good experience for the team especially this early in the season," said Mapua team captain Isit.
"At the end of the day, it all boiled down to heart. I guess our guys showed grit and I'm happy for them."
Hamadou Laminou scored back-to-back baskets with under a minute to go to help the Generals pull to within a whisker, 68-67.
Isit made one from the foul line in the ensuing play, before Francis Munsayac turned the ball over with 8.3 ticks left.
Munsayac tried to redeem himself with a three-pointer at the buzzer but his shot went off.
Laminou and Sidney Onwubere had 13 points each for EAC, which suffered its third loss in four outings.
Mapua 70 - Orquina 13, Estrella 12, Isit 12, Eriobu 9, Biteng 6, Bunag 6, Victoria 6, Menina 4, Serrano 2, Magboo 0, Raflores 0.
EAC 67 - Laminou 13, Onwubere 13, Morada 12, Munsayac 11, Diego 8, King 7, Pascua 2, General 1, Corilla 0, Estacio 0, Guzman 0, Serrano 0.
Quarterscores: 19-10; 36-37; 56-53; 70-67.