MACAU-John Paul Erram never imagined getting this far in his PBA career with Blackwater.
Selected 15th overall by Talk 'N Text (now TNT) in the 2013 PBA Rookie Draft, the six-foot-eight Erram saw his career take off slowly but surely the last three years.
Erram spent much of his rookie season in the reserve list owing to an abundance of big men for Talk 'N Text.
But the former Ateneo backup big man's biggest break came during the 2015 season when Erram was left unprotected by Talk 'N Text, and putting him in the dispersal draft pool. Back then, Blackwater and KIA (now Columbian) were the new expansion squads. Both squads were given a chance to select from the dispersal draft.
"I never expected that my PBA career will reach this far, though back then at Talk 'N Text, I was just thinking that I must not stop working hard because who knows, one day I might be given a chance, either as a player off the bench or as a starter," Erram told ESPN5, whose team is currently participating in the 2018 Asia League Summer Super 8.
True enough, when the 29-year-old big man got selected by the Elite from the dispersal draft, the young PBA franchise owned by Dioceldo Sy saw his potential.
The coaching staff, led by then head coach Leo Isaac and Bong Ramos, took the time to develop Erram's game.
For Erram, he seized that as an opportunity to grow in his career, working on his perimeter shooting, post game and footwork.
"I just took advantage of the opportunities given to me by the Lord because the Blackwater management wanted to win, and I also want to win," he said.
Now in his fourth season with the Elite, Erram averaged close to a double-double in the PBA Commissioner's Cup with per-game stats of 10.6 points and 8.2 rebounds, along with 1.7 assists in a career-best 29.6 minutes of play.
His consistency saw him rise to no. 13 in the statistical points for the 2018 PBA Season MVP. But Erram chose not to focus on that at this point.
"For me, as I see it, my game is slowly picking up but I don't have any intention of slowing down," the soft-spoken Blackwater big man said in Filipino.
Erram cited American import Henry Walker's contribution to his game and newfound confidence.
The 6-4 Walker is back this year for the Elite, serving as the franchise's replacement import for the Commissioner's Cup and will be with the team till the season-ending Governors' Cup.
"Personally, Henry's influence in my game is huge. He serves as my guide and my mentor and gives me tips on when to attack the defense. My confidence really rose with him guiding me," said Erram.
Erram has managed to hold his own against the bigger Asian players he has faced in the Summer Super 8 after averaging 11.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.3 blocks in Blackwater's group stage play.
The Elite finished the preliminaries at 2-1 in Group B and will just wait for the result of the Guangzhou-Seoul Samsung game late Thursday evening. A loss by Seoul Samsung gives Blackwater safe passage in the crossover semifinals set to start this Saturday.