It took them a rough three-game losing streak to find their bearings, but JP Erram is just glad that NLEX is finally on the winning track.
The Road Warriors’ new franchise cornerstone threw his weight around against Columbian on Sunday and finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and five blocks to help deliver the team’s first win in the PBA Philippine Cup on a silver platter.
Erram says that victory took a bit of pressure off of his shoulders.
“Actually, nung nakuha namin panalo parang nakahinga talaga ako nang maluwag kasi syempre yun nga, alam naman ng mga tao, alam niyo ‘yung pressure na meron sa’kin kasi dami nilang binitawan eh. Tapos ngayon na naka-deliver ako ng panalo and then nag-best player pa ko, so parang ang sarap sa pakiramdam,” he said.
His play against the Dyip was a prime example of what many expected from him on a nightly basis when NLEX brought him along.
Since arriving after getting dealt by Blackwater in the offseason, Erram has slowly been finding his groove. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year appears to have put a slow start to the conference behind him and has now tallied at least three blocks in his last three games—including two consecutive contests with five swats.
The offense, meanwhile, is just secondary for the 6-foot-8 slotman.
“Ever since yun talaga yung goal ko eh: to play defense. For me number one option ko to play defense talaga, hinayaan ko lang. Sabi nga ni coach hayaan niyo lang dumating yung offense. Kasi masyado na kaming nag-iisip sa opensa. Hindi kami nakakapag-create nang maayos, lagi kaming natatalo. So ngayon, this game, nag-focus kami to play defense and let the offense come sa amin,” he explained.
Now that he and the team have taken a positive step towards the right direction, the next thing on their agenda will be building momentum. NLEX is at 1-3 and will have a lot of catching up to do in order to at least make the quarterfinals.
Erram thinks tightening their defense is a good place to start.
“Pero yun nga, at the end of the day, it’s just one win. Marami pang kailangan gawin, marami pang kailangan iimprovem” he said.
“Sa practice, focus lang kami sa ginagawa namin, sa skills and sa defense,” he added. “Bini-beat kami one-on-one eh. Defensively, as a team, kaya namin. One-on-one, nahihirapan kami. So kailangan namin iimprove yung one-on-one defense.”
(Photo credit: PBA Images)