Kevin Alas did not hide how hard it was for him and the rest of the NLEX Road Warriors to let go of Poy Erram, as the 6-foot-8 center has become more than just a teammate.
The vastly-improved Erram was the answer for NLEX in its search for a legit big man. He arrived late in 2018, but his stay didn’t last long as the team shipped him to TNT KaTropa last February.
“Of course, we were sad na na-trade si Poy,” Alas said in the 2OT podcast, presented by SMART and supported by Phenom Sportswear Inc.
“Parang kapatid na rin namin si Poy. Napalapit na siya sa amin eh — kabiruan namin, kasama namin sa games, and everything.”
That trade sent shock waves across the PBA, since NLEX had become a contender with Erram and the deadly backcourt tandem of Alas and Kiefer Ravena leading the way.
But there’s no reason to cry over spilled milk, as they say, and Alas is taking such approach. For him, the Road Warriors had done well without Erram before, and he believes that they can do so again.
After all, NLEX’s breakthrough semifinal appearance was in the 2018 Philippine Cup, when Alas and Ravena were the ones steering the wheel. At the time, Erram was still with the Blackwater Elite.
“But at the same time, parang naging blessing in disguise na sa amin ‘yung pagkawala ni Poy. Iniisip namin na ganon, kasi ‘yung last time na nag-semis kami, wala naman si Poy noon, ‘di ba?” he said.
The team appears to have regressed without Erram, but this NLEX crew is similar to the one that reached the semis. The difference now, though, is that it has shifty guard Jericho Cruz in tow.
“Nandiyan na si Jericho, so iniisip namin, dati naman kaya naman natin without Poy. So siguro kaya rin natin now. In perspective na lang namin iisipin namin na blessing in disguise,” Alas said.
“Baka mas paghihirapan natin ‘yung pagpasok sa semis this time,” added the 2014 second overall pick, who was traded by Talk N Text to NLEX in 2015 as he was part of the deal that had Troy Rosario at the center.
Meanwhile, Cruz is more than ready to take on the challenge of helping his squad, and he fully believes the other Road Warriors — especially their bigs — are capable of stepping up to the plate.
“Nung nawala si Poy sa team namin, nakikita ko ‘yung eight games na nilaro namin nung off-season. Nakikita ko ‘yung ibang bigs namin nagse-step up, tulad nina Raul Soyud, sina Mike Miranda,” he recalled.
“So ‘yung mga ganong bagay, medyo malaki na ‘yun sa amin kasi kahit papaano, ‘yung role ni Poy nung nasa amin pa siya, nagagawa nila Raul, nila Mike. Siguro it’s a blessing in disguise na nawala si Poy, [kasi] there’s always someone who will step up for us. ‘Yun maganda kay coach [Yeng Guiao], binibigyan niya lahat ng chance talaga maglaro. So, lahat ng binibigay na minutes kay Poy, siguro mapupunta na kina Mike, kala Raul, siyempre kina JR [Quinahan].
“‘Yun naman talaga ang kailangan ng player ‘di ba, ‘yung playing time. Siguro ‘pag nabigyan ng playing time ‘yung mga ‘yun, malay mo medyo gumaling pa kay Poy, ‘di ba? Baka lang naman,” Cruz added.