Poy Erram got to a point where he seriously thought of leaving the game of basketball to tread a different career path.
At the time, he was heading into his final year with Ateneo in the UAAP, when he couldn’t seem to fully recover from an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Erram was injured during the latter part of Season 75, reducing him to a spectator as he watched his Blue Eagles complete the historic five-peat.
“Na-ACL ako tapos after noon, sabi ko parang ito na yata ‘yung last chance ko. So the next year, 2013, last season ko na, sabi ko tapusin ko na lang ‘to tapos after graduate, trabaho na lang,” he told 2OT presented by SMART and supported by Phenom Sportswear.
“Kasi wala na talaga eh. ‘Yung tuhod ko noon talagang namamaga, every game nagtutubig, namamaga, as in tinatanggalan ng tubig palagi.”
Besides the health issue, his few on-court minutes were another a reason why the Cagayan De Oro-native contemplated leaving his dreams behind. During his time in Ateneo, the team’s frontcourt was stacked, bannered by 7-footer Greg Slaughter and bruiser Justin Chua.
“Tapos wala akong pinapakita. Minsan hindi ako ginagamit, minsan talaga two minutes lang,” he added.
“Sabi ko graduate na lang ako, tapusin ko na lang ‘tong pag-aaral ko, tapos after noon, tatrabaho na lang ako.
‘”Yun ‘yung tumatakbo sa isip ko kasi wala talaga eh, buong four years ko sa UAAP talagang wala po talaga. Wala akong napakita — kahit nag-ten, eleven, twelve points ako, wala talaga eh,” he shared.
But then, the 6-foot-8 slotman received what he considered a sign to just push through on his hoop career.
“Binigyan lang ako ng sign — may lumapit na manager sa akin. Nilapitan po ako nina Boss Marvin [Espiritu] at ni Matthew Manotoc na kung gusto ko raw magpa-draft sa PBA,” he recalled.
So he decided to throw his name in the 2013 PBA Draft, even though his knee problems kept on hounding him.
“Nung Combine, tumalon ako doon sa vertical, pag-land ko ang sakit ng tuhod ko,” he recalled. “Mabuti na lang ‘yung ibang drills push-up, sit-ups saka bench press. Sabi ko buti na lang ganito na lang ‘yung pinapagawa kasi ‘yung tuhod ko talaga noon, namaga lalo.”
Still, he persevered. And eventually, he got selected as the 15th overall pick by Talk N Text in the draft proceedings.
That was a huge blessing. But being drafted by the flagship MVP franchise meant so much more for him.
As part of the Texters, Erram was able to continue his studies in Ateneo, as well as the rehabilitation of his injured knee.
After all, Talk N Text regularly holds its practices in the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center in Ateneo up to now.
“Nung nakuha na ako sa TNT, blessing din siya kasi nag-aaral pa po ako sa Ateneo non,” he said.
“And nung hindi pa ako nakakalaro sa kanila, wala akong ibang ginawa kung hindi mag-rehab ng tuhod ko, palakasin ‘yung tuhod ko.”
Erram, though, only spent time with TNT as a practice player for 10 months. But he remained grateful for the opportunity.
He may not have played a game in a Texters jersey ,but he got to work with some of the best in the biz, like Ranidel De Ocampo and Danny Seigle.
“Nung ten months na po ‘yun, kahit hindi ako nakakalaro, nakaka-practice ko naman sila Kuya Ranidel, sila Kuya Danny Seigle, sila Ali Peek, sila Sean Anthony, sila Rob Reyes, Kuya Kelly [Williams]… Nakakalaro ko,” he said.
Erram soon left the Texters when he got selected by expansion team Blackwater in the dispersal draft in 2014.
From there, the kid who once thought of turning his back away from the game began blossoming into one of the best bigs of today.
Erram played for four years with the Elite, which saw him become a Defensive Player of the Year and a Mythical Second Team member. He also led the league in blocks for three seasons during his time with the Dioceldo Sy-owned franchise.
Erram then continued to show his vast improvements with the NLEX Road Warriors under head coach Yeng Guiao.
And just last February, the Gilas Pilipinas member came full circle, as he saw himself back to the organization that took a chance on him in 2013.
With how it all turned out for him, Erram feels happy and relieved to have overcome the many challenges thrown his way. And he will keep going.
“For me, gusto ko lang i-prove sa sarili ko na kaya ko pa, na every time na may mangyayari sa aking obstacles, kaya ko ‘tong lagpasan,” said the 31-year-old, who has overcome two ACL injuries.
“Dati nga nung wala akong kinakain, nalagpasan ko ‘yun eh. Nung college ako na wala akong minuto, nalagpasan ko ‘yun. Hindi naman sa pagmamayabang or what pero ‘yun nga, ang iniisip ko lang every time na naglalaro ako, lagi kong iniisip ‘yung sarili ko na kaya ko pa bang gawin ‘to? Kaya ko pa bang iangat ‘yung sarili ko? Kaya ko pa bang mai-angat ‘yung laro ko?” he continued.
“So dati, pinu-prove ko sa pamilya ko kasi pamilya ko pinipigilan ako. Ngayon, naisip ko na kahit anong mangyari, pamilya ko ‘yung babalikan ko eh. So pinu-prove ko sa sarili ko na kaya ko ba ‘tong gawin, which is kaya ko pa. Hangga’t naglalaro pa po ako, hangga’t yung fire nandoon pa sa puso ko, magi-improve pa ako. Saka kaya ko pang lagpasan ‘yung mga ibang bagay.”