Everybody figured San Miguel Beer would be vulnerable without six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo. And just a look at the third straight TNT player to achieve a career-high night showed how much the Beermen were missing their 6-foot-10 star.
Poy Erram finished with 27 points and 15 rebounds as TNT routed the defending champions, 107-88, on Wednesday night in the PBA Philippine Cup at Angeles University Foundation gym.
Erram was the third player in as many TNT games to achieve a career-high night: RR Pogoy opened TNT’s campaign in this conference with 45 points and Ray Parks Jr. followed it up with a 40-point outburst as the Tropang Giga rocketed to a 3-0 start in the conference, peeling free from a logjam at the top and grabbing the early solo lead.
“We’re really working hard and we’re helping each other to improve,” Erram said. “We’re trusting each other really. Our coaching staff is doing a good job preparing us; me especially, emotionally.”
“We’re fortunate to have guys like Roger (Pogoy), Ray and now Poy really stepping up for us,” TNT coach Bong Ravena said after the game.
Ravena admitted that the hole in San Miguel’s middle was too glaring to not notice—especially with Erram’s big game in the foreground.
“It’s really different without June Mar there,” Ravena told the Inquirer. “The space he takes up is huge. Every team plots around playing June Mar when it comes to beating San Miguel.”
“Also, everybody [at San Miguel] starts with June Mar. Shooters have it easier when June Mar is there,” Ravena added.
The Cebuano big man was left off the Beermen’s roster as he continues to rehabilitate his surgically repaired leg. And TNT took advantage.
Erram vaulted over defenders for put-backs and scored at will at the post. Mo Tautuaa, whose athleticism and outside touch were being eyed to patch up Fajardo’s absence, was simply overwhelmed in the center matchup, finishing with nine points and a scant five rebounds.
TNT waxed hot right at the start with Pogoy and Parks scoring 10 points each in the opening period to give the Tropang Giga a 30-18 spread, which they grew to 57-38 at halftime.
San Miguel rallied to within seven points in the third quarter but Erram unloaded 12 points from that point and Simon Enciso chipped in 10, including a basket that gave TNT a 90-68 spread.
“We just really took advantage of our opponent,” Ravena said.
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