FORMER Blackwater coach Leo Isaac has always believed that Poy Erram has the potential to become one of the PBA’s top big men.
And for that, the 6-foot-8 center will forever be grateful to his former coach.
Erram credited Isaac for giving him the chance at redemption and restoring his self-esteem following what basically had been a forgettable stint with TnT Katropa during his first two seasons in the league.
“Gusto kong magpasalamat kay coach Leo kasi siya talaga yung coach na nagbigay sa akin ng chance to prove myself sa PBA,” said the big man out of Ateneo.
“Siya yung nagbigay sa akin ng tiwala na I can improve at para makuha ko yung potential ko as a PBA player.”
Isaac parted ways with Blackwater last week after the team got off to a 0-3 start in the Commissioner’s Cup. Former deputy Bong Ramos took over the post that the former Ginebra point guard held for three-plus seasons.
Erram won three UAAP men’s basketball championships with the Blue Eagles before declaring for the 2013 draft, where he ended being picked in the second round (15th overall) by TnT.
But he never really got going at TnT that after only a year, he was left unprotected by the team during the 2014 dispersal draft involving then expansion franchises Blackwater and KIA.
Isaac gambled on the 28-year-old big man then took him under his wings.
“Galing sa dispersal draft, kinuha niya ako. From there, it says a lot about his personality. Alam niya kung ano yung talent ng isang player,” Erram said.
Incidentally, Erram was the only player left out of the original Blackwater team that made its debut during the 2014-15 season.
While an ACL injury slowed him down, it was obvious he has become the face of the franchise with his dominant inside game.
He has improved on his averages every year, norming 12.8 points, 12.0 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, and 2.1 assists per outing last season for his best in his six-year pro career.
In the last Philippine Cup, Erram averaged 14.2 points (second in the team) and a club-best 13.8 rebounds and 2.9 block shots for Blackwater to contend for the Best Player of the Conference award, where he finished fifth behind winner June Mar Fajardo.
Erram credited all of these to the 57-year-old Isaac.
“Sobrang big part siya ng basketball career ko,” he said.
He admitted being caught off-guard by the team’s decision to change its coach, although Erram also understands the nature of basketball in the league.
“Sabi nga nila basketball is business,” he said. “Siguro part na rin ng team na kailangan na rin mag-change, kasi yun ang nakikita ng management na kailangan magbago (ng coach) para sa ikabubuti ng team.”
Erram doesn’t see any problem working with Ramos, who was already with the team for two years as part of Isaac’s staff until he left the country late last year for a coaching job in Indonesia.
“Naging assistant rin naman siya ni coach Leo, so alam na rin namin kung ano ang gusto niyang gawin,” said Erram of Ramos.
And that goes the same for the new Blackwater coach on the team’s main man.