Blackwater big man JP Erram is taking a workmanlike approach at Gilas Pilipinas practice as he is determined to earn a spot for the national squad, which plays Kazakhstan and Iran on November 30 and December 3, respectively, in the fifth window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers.
The 6-foot-7 Erram said since Blackwater got booted out of the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup, he has worked his way back to regaining his playing weight after suffering from fatigue two months ago.
"I just ate a lot and then lifted weights regularly because I needed to add weight. I lost a lot of weight (the past months)," Erram told ESPN5. "My ideal weight is between 220 pounds to 225 pounds, now I'm about 220, far from the 205 I weighed recently."
The 29-year-old Erram has showed his readiness to bang bodies during Gilas' first tune-up match against Jordan Tuesday night.
The vastly-improved Blackwater slotman actually engaged Jordanian center Mohammed Hussein in several physical plays in the final period.
"When I'm in the game, I just go hard, just like what (Gilas) coach Yeng (Guiao) has been telling us," he shared. "This game is not the type of game you can pace yourself because you get to play five to six minutes, you have to go hard immediately so I don't second thoughts if I even have to dive for the loose ball."
Erram said he's managed to hold his emotions in the game against Jordan, knowing that retaliating won't do him and Gilas any good.
"I just need to control my emotions because what's important is the task at hand," shared the former Ateneo Blue Eagle. "At the same time, the tune-up games give me an idea what else I need to work on and my strengths and weaknesses as well."
Erram knows competition for the spots for the bigs in Gilas' 20-man pool is tough, with the PBA's big names led by four-time league MVP June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Beau Belga, Japeth Aguilar and Fil-German slotman Christian Standhardinger all in the pool. Batang Gilas center Kai Sotto is also competing for a slot.
But the Blackwater starting center vowed to give his all in practice and the remaining tune-up matches versus Jordan and Lebanon.
Gilas takes on Jordan anew on Wednesday before facing Lebanon on Friday and Sunday.