IN his short stint so far with NLEX, John Paul Erram has already earned a moniker from his coach and the Road Warriors.
“We call him ‘The Sweeper’ kasi winawalis niya yung mga tira ng kalaban,” said coach Yeng Guiao with a grin.
The 6-foot-8 Erram validated his new-found nickname as his crucial block against Ranidel De Ocampo in the dying seconds preserved the Road Warriors’ 87-83 win over the Meralco Bolts last week at the Ynares Center in Antipolo to stretch the team’s winning streak in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Erram finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and five block shots in the Road Warriors’ second straight victory after a 0-3 start.
Although Guiao appreciates the scoring effort of the 29-year former Ateneo slotman, it’s still his defense that stands out the most for the Team Pilipinas coach.
“That’s really the role that Poy Erram plays for us defensively. Alam natin na kaya niyang umiskor. I think he’s topscoring for us on the average,” he said.
“But I don’t know if people noticed that he’s averaging 3.0 to 4.0 blocks a game.”
Erram currently leads the league in shot blocks with 4.0 a game.
According to PBA chief statistician Fidel Mangonon, two-time MVP Benjie Paras was the last player to average 4.0 blocks per game in a season, which he did in 1991.
Erram is ready to embrace that role since he’s aware that was basically the purpose why the Road Warriors moved heaven and earth just to acquire his services from Blackwater.
“Sabi nga ni coach Yeng, sa offense may off-night, sa defense wala,” he said. “For me, yun talaga yung trabaho ko every night. Yun ang parang calling card ko. Kung masama ang opensa ko, dahat sa depensa hindi.”
Erram faces yet another challenge on Friday when the Road Warriors face unbeaten league leader Phoenix Fuel Masters, one of the top defensive teams in the PBA today.