Blackwater's Erram returns from illness but still groping for form

John Paul Erram is glad to be back after missing two games due to a viral infection that led to his confinement recently at the VRP Medical Center in Mandaluyong City.

The 6-foot-8 Erram's timing though was off in his return Sunday against Rain or Shine, contributing just two points on a woeful 1-of-10 shooting. But he managed to pluck down eight rebounds, add two steals and one block in 20 minutes of action.

Import Henry Walker, wingman Allein Maliksi and guards John Nardi Pinto, Mike DiGregorio as well as Paul Zamar saved the day for the Elite, who subdued the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 99-93, in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

"Honestly, I'm still not in good condition because yesterday (Sunday), I still feel weak because before the game against Rain or Shine, I only had a walk-through in practice so I'm still out of shape," Erram told ESPN5 after the team's Monday morning practice at the Reyes Gym in Mandaluyong.

The former Ateneo big man admitted fatigue has taken its toll on him since playing basketball non-stop dating back to the 2018 Commissioner's Cup.

In fact, the 29-year-old Erram helped Blackwater score a five-game sweep in a pocket tournament in Surabaya, Indonesia last July, before participating in the Asia League Summer Super 8 tournament in Macau.

After just a few days off, Erram was tapped to play for Gilas Pilipinas, which went on to finish fifth in the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, followed by two more games in the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifier against Iran and Qatar.

But the soft-spoken Erram isn't complaining at all. In fact, Erram is happy with the way his basketball career has turned in the second half of this year, including the Elite's excellent showing in the 2018 Governors' Cup.

"Now, I'm trying to get back to my regular routine like having five meals a day, taking Whey Protein and just today after practice, I started running as well," explained Erram.

With four games left in their elimination-round assignment, Erram intends to get into game shape, while hoping the Elite can also secure a top four finish for a twice-to-beat incentive heading into the playoffs.

"We just need to treat every game in the eliminations like a playoff game," he continued. We've gone this far and we don't intend to relax and let this chance (for a playoffs) slip past us. We want to keep improving in each game."

Blackwater, which beat Meralco and Rain or Shine this past week, guns for a third straight win when it faces Magnolia on Wednesday at the Cuneta Astrodome.