The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons bucked a late run by the Mapua Institute of Technology (MIT) Cardinals, and ran away with their first win of the 2015 FilOil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup, 67-63 on Monday, April 27, at the FilOil Flying V Arena, San Juan City.
UP charged on the attack early, and built an 8-0 lead anchored on returning Paul Desiderio. MIT, however, cut down the deficit to two, 8-10, with two minutes left at the first quarter after back-to-back baskets of Stephen Que. The Maroons, then, pulled away to close the canto with Agu Amar free throws, 13-10.
CJ Isit tied the game at the start of the second quarter with a long three, but it was the closest MIT could get because UP had solidified their defense to deny the Cardinals of any chance for scoring. On their part, the Maroons quickened the pace to erect a five-point lead with a Janjan Jaboneta jumper, six minutes left into the half. Mapua, however, strived to keep the game close, as Veteran Josan Nimes drew a foul on a drive, and converted on his shot and the bonus. The Maroons, however, still continued their speedy offense to end the half, 32-28. Moreover, Dave Moralde finished the first half with eight points for UP along with two steals, most of which the veteran forward did in the latter part of the half.
At the third quarter, UP kept on playing solid defense on MIT and consolidated it with great offense. Moralde, still with momentum from the previous quarter, started off strong as he scored five points for UP to start the quarter and help rebuild another five-point cushion. On the other hand, Nimes and Nigerian center, Allwell Oraeme, led the comeback for the Cardinals to keep within UP’s reach, 36-37, halfway into the third quarter. MIT finally had a change to grab the lead when Mark Brana was granted charities, but he missed his chances. It was a see-saw battle for the whole quarter until there were 27.3 seconds left. Mapua’s Justin Serrano was fouled by Gelo Vito, and Serrano got two free throws in to finally tie the game. The lead, however, was short lived for the Maroons caught Cardinals’ defense off guard in the final play. Mark Juruena had found a cutting Jerson Prado for the and-one to peg the score at 48-45.
The fourth quarter started similarly as the first three minutes had the Maroons pushing for the attack and MIT playing catch up. UP clamped on the Cardinals, while Moralde continued to sizzle with back-to-back baskets three minutes into the final period. MIT had a lease of life when Bien Dela Rosa exploded to 11 straight points to finally wrestle the lead, 62-60, with less than two minutes left, forcing UP to call for time.
In the huddle, UP Coach, Joe Ward, asked his boys, “Do you want to win this game?” His words seemed to have stirred the team, as the Maroons took over from here. Vito was able to rebound a miss and put it in to equalize, 62-all. Kyles Lao reclaimed the lead for UP with putback, with under a minute left in the game. Mapua went on to their money man Nimes, but the returning star converted only one bonus. Vito made his shot to roll off a pass from Henry Asilum for the dagger, 66-63. The Fighting Maroons went on to take the victory as the buzzer sounded.
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
MIT (63) – Oraeme 14, Isit 13, Dela Rosa 11, Nimes 9, Que 6, Brana 4, Serrano 4, Nieves 2, Stevens 0, Layug 0, Villaseñor 0
Quarter scores: 13-10, 32-28, 48-45, 67-63