Erram sticks to Chot’s team defense amid battles with top bigs

TNT Tropang Giga center Poy Erram has scrapped with some of the PBA’s best big men in the Philippine Cup playoffs, and the road is only getting tougher day by day as he tries to help his team win a long-sought All-Filipino title.

In the one-game quarterfinal rout against Barangay Ginebra, the 6-foot-8 beanpole only played 13 minutes, but still got 9 points and 5 rebounds against star big man Christian Standhardinger.

Onto the best-of-seven semis, Erram is now holding his ground against six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, and peaked in Game 3 with a season-high double-double of 21 points and 13 rebounds en route to a 115-98 blowout win over the San Miguel Beermen.

When asked how he is keeping his superstar foes in line so far, the former Ateneo big man just deflected credit to the system head coach Chot Reyes is running for TNT.

“We don’t have Kelly [Williams], so as a team, it’s very challenging for us,” he said after the game. “I don’t look at it as a player-to-player matchup. That’s not my intention or whatever. But as a team, if we limit them, if we play as a team, play good defense as a team, that gives us a chance.”

“[It’s] not a guaranteed win, but it gives us a chance, so we’re going to take it,” he added. “We’re going to prepare offensively and defensively. In the end, if we have a chance, we’ll take it.”

Sure enough, without Williams, the Tropang Giga have ganged up on opposing big men as one cohesive unit, as proved by their quarterfinal rout of Ginebra, where Erram, Troy Rosario, and Dave Marcelo all made Standhardinger work for his points from start to finish.

Even in the semifinals against San Miguel and Fajardo, Erram has not hit the 30-minute mark in all three games so far, as Reyes has continued to shuffle his rotation with a balanced outlook.

Despite the relatively low minutes, Erram could not ask for more from his new coach, who last saw sideline action in the PBA two years before he was drafted.

“Actually I’m honored. He’s one of the best coaches in the PBA. Playing for him is a dream come true because of the system, the new system, we learn new things. He lets you play basketball the right way,” he said.

“For me, it’s the best thing that can happen to a player, if the coach lets you play. There’s no sugarcoating, no anything, just straight to the point.”

As the two title-hunting teams continue to trade blows in what would likely be a drawn-out series, it’s safe to say that Erram will be well-rested and consistently ready for the long, chippy battles ahead. – Rappler.com