MANILA, July 16, 2006 (MALAYA) IT didn’t take long for Eric Salamat to prove his worth.

In only his second game with Ateneo, Salamat came through with an impressive display of his skills, leading the Blue Eagles to 98-89 win over the Fighting Maroons of UP in the 69th UAAP men’s basketball tournament last night at the Ninoy Aqiono Stadium.

Salamat, the Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) last year after leading the San Sebastian Staglets to the NCAA junior’s title, finished with 17 points, displaying steady shooting from the foul line making 11 of 12 shots.

"Eric (Salamat) played an exceptional game and we fought really hard to recruit him," said Ateneo coach Norman Black.

The Eagles, now tied with host UE Red Warriors on top of the standings with similar 2-0 cards, led by 10 points (56-46) near the end of the third period, but the Maroons, led by veteran guard Marvin Cruz, bounced back to tie the game at 69-all.

But Ateneo, behind Salamat, Zion Laterre, Clifford Arao and JC Intal, used a 15-2 run to take a commanding 84-71 advantage with Intal capping the blitzkrieg with a three-point play off a foul by Dennis Cacha with three minutes to play.

Big man Doug Kramer finished with double-double 20 points and 10 rebounds while Intal chipped in 13 on top of five rebounds and five assists.

UP, which dropped to 1-1, got a game-high 29 points from Cruz.

Meanwhile, the Adamson Lady Falcons reaffirmed their status as a title contender by annihilating tournament newcomer National U 97-28 yesterday at the start of women’s basketball hostilities in the UAAP Season 69 at the University of the East Gym 5 in Manila.

And Merenciana Arayi still is an MVP material for the Lady Falcons–who limited the Lady Bulldogs to only two points in the second quarter–as she finished for last year’s runners-up with a game-high 27 points on top of 11 rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Last year’s third-placer University of the Philippines made mincemeat of UE, last season’s cellar-dweller, 85-64 and No. 4 Far Eastern U teetered past No. 6 Santo

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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