An Eric Salamat Renaissance with the Flying V Thunder
by rick olivares
Early in the second period in a tune-up match against the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in the FilOil Flying V Premier Cup, Eric Salamat drilled a huge triple from the left corner pocket to hike the Flying V Thunder’s lead to nine points.
Salamat pointed to his teammates on the bench and saluted.
It was the shooting guard’s signature move. A steal, a trey, and a salute.
In fact, two days earlier, against the Arellano Chiefs in the same tournament, Salamat poked away the ball from a driving Kent Michael Salado then fielded an off-balance pass and hit another triple from the same position to tie the match at 77-all; the game’s last points.
His teammates mobbed him for his heroics.
At 29 years old, Eric Salamat is the oldest player on a young Flying V Thunder squad that is composed mainly of former Ateneo and La Salle players who will be seeing action in the upcoming PBA D-League Foundation Cup.
The former Ateneo Blue Eagle who won three UAAP seniors titles from 2008-10 then spent three years in the PBA, one season each with different teams – the Alaska Aces who drafted him in 2011-12, the Air21 Express in 2012-13, and the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters from 2013-14.
After his PBA stint, he played for Manny Pacquiao’s Powervit Mindanao Aguilas in the Asean Basketball League. He was signed by the Flying V Thunder for the aborted Country Wide Basketball League but has stayed with the team that is currently participating as a guest team in the ongoing FilOil Flying V Premier Cup as preparation for its D-League stint.
Salamat, along with former La Salle Green Archer and Mapua Cardinal Gab Banal, have been the most consistent players in their two Premier Cup tune-up matches as well as recent scrimmages with other squads.
Yung strong play ko naman with the team is because of the trust din ni Coach Eric (Altamirano) sa akin. He’s a father to me and to the team. Talagang siya magsasawa sa pag-remind sa amin. Sa pag push sa amin. And knowing coach, champion coach siya na may champion culture. Kaya tamang tama ang timpla. Champion management, champion coach hopefully mag champion din yung team namin.”
“And playing leader to this team is not that hard,” added the shifty guard who is also known for his defensive prowess. “Lahat ng teammates ko willing to learn. And talagang hard worker lahat. Siguro guidance nalang yung naibibigay ko sa mga younger teammates ko. Kasi sa court mas magaling pa sila sa akin eh. Yung team namin parang family. Masaya matutuwa ka camaraderie ng team. Hopefully, tuloy tuloy yung laro ko na maayos sa D-League.”
In the two tune-up matches against elite college competition, Salamat has been averaging 17.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 3.0 steals against 1.5 turnovers.