|[Photo credit: Juan Benjamin Janeo for Inboundpass]|
By now it's old news that Ateneo Blue Eagles backup center JP Erram is out for the remainder of UAAP Season 75 with an ACL tear. It was a freak accident that may toll on the team's bid to win its fifth straight title.
Erram had earlier been hit with a one-game suspension after (belatedly) being assessed his second unsportsmanlike foul of the season in the aftermath of Ateneo's second round victory against the FEU Tamaraws. He was forced to sit out the Blue Eagles' win over DLSU Green Archers, and was not fielded in their next game, an upset loss to the UE Red Warriors. Then in his first game back following that two-game absence, he got injured during this sequence.
Erram had been projected as Ateneo's starting center next year as current starter Greg Slaughter and backup Justin Chua will end their UAAP careers after this season, while fellow reserve Frank Golla's play has seemingly regressed. He was averaging 3.6 points on 64% FG (14/22) and 62% FT (8/13) shooting, 4.1 rebounds, and 1 block in 8.8 minutes per game, and was leading the league in field goal percentage before his nasty fall.
The last Blue Eagle I remember suffering the same sort of season-ending injury in a game was Larry Fonacier who, coincidentally, also sustained an ACL injury during Ateneo's fourth outing in 2004, a game against the UP Fighting Maroons that I actually attended.
Fonacier, however, eventually recovered to enjoy an award- and championship-filled pro career in the Philippine Basketball Association. He even made it to the Smart-Gilas Pilipinas national team that won the William Jones Cup last month and will compete in the FIBA Asia Cup starting this Friday.
So yeah, there's hope for Erram.
I expect the Blue Eagles to have an Erram-related patch on the jerseys they will use in tomorrow's game against the NU Bulldogs, similar to the "14" patch the Blue Eagles used in UAAP Season 67 for Fonacier, and the "JMR" patch the Green Archers used last month in honor of the late DILG Secretary Jesse M. Robredo, who was a DLSU alumnus.
[13 September 2012 Edit]
They didn't have uniform patches, but Erram's teammates didn't forget. More importantly, they won the game for him.