UNIVERSITY of the Philippines nearly squandered a 21-point lead before turning back College of St. Benilde, 76-69, on Monday to even its card in the 2014 FilOil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup at The Arena in San Juan.
Former San Beda guard Dave Moralde came up with 18 points for the Fighting Maroons, while JR Gallarza and returnee Mikee Reyes added 14 apiece, as UP improved its win-loss record to 1-1.
Diego Dario and Mark Juruena chipped in 13 and 10, respectively, for UP, which bounced back after losing its opening match to San Sebastian, 78-81.
Up 41-20 at the half, the Fighting Maroons relaxed and found themselves ahead by just six, 61-67, midway through the final period.
Reyes came up with an and-one play and Gallarza hit a basket to widen the gap, 72-61, with 1:14 on the clock.
CSB rallied with eight straight points behind Jonathan Grey and Luis Sinco, 69-72, with 12 seconds left to play, but UP scored trash points to hold on.
“Siguro narinig niyo na 'to, but it's really a process for us," said UP coach Rey Madrid. "Pero finally nagkakaroon na kami ng kumpyansa sa end game. Shaky but it's there and we're able to develop our team defense na nagawa naman namin sa dulo."
Grey scored 17 points for St. Benilde, which dropped to 0-2.
UP 76 - Moralde 18, Gallarza 14, Reyes 14, Dario 13, Juruena 10, Gingerich 3, Harris 2, Lao 2, Romero 0, Prado 0.
St. Benilde 69 - Grey 17, Nayve 14, Bartolo 8, Romero 7, Sinco 6, Mercado 5, Argamino 4, Ongtengco 3, Melocotn 3, Jonson 2, Saavedra 3, Pajrillaga 0, Altamirano 0, Flores 0.
Quarterscores: 23-13; 41-20; 56-48; 76-69.