MANILA, Philippines – He became a star for Gilas Pilipinas earlier this year, but Dwight Ramos knows he still has a lot to prove as he begins his career as a professional basketball player.
Ramos signed last week with the Toyama Grouses in the Japanese B.League, making him the eighth Filipino player to join the league as an Asian import. The development meant he would no longer play for Ateneo de Manila University in the UAAP.
“It was just the situation here, the uncertainty of the UAAP,” Ramos said on “The Game,” as he explained his decision. “I really don’t know when this is going to happen.”
Ramos transferred to Ateneo in 2019 after playing for California State University, Fullerton from 2016 to 2018. He would have been eligible to play in the UAAP Season 83 men’s basketball tournament, which was canceled due to the pandemic. of COVID-19.
Without any certainty as to when collegiate sports in the Philippines can resume, Ramos has decided to seize the opportunity presented to him in Japan.
“I really needed to keep playing. It’s really hard to get into the gym, so I couldn’t wait to get back to that daily training, consistent games, and that’s what I was looking for,” a- he explained.
“I found a good team, one of the B.League teams, and they wanted me, so that’s how it all went,” he added.
For Ramos, 23, this stint in Japan is a way for him to show what he is truly capable of, after giving Filipino fans a glimpse of his talent through his time for the national team.
Ramos played six games for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers, averaging 13.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He drew attention during their game against Thailand in November, when he managed all seven shots en route to a 20-point, seven-rebound performance. Gilas Pilipinas won comfortably, 93-61.
“Every time I play I feel like I have to prove something,” Ramos said.
“I only played a few games with Gilas, I couldn’t play in the UAAP. So really, I’m still relatively new to the Philippine basketball scene,” he said.
“I think this year I hope to consolidate my name in the Philippines.”
Ramos joins a Toyama side that have high hopes for B.League’s next season, having made the playoffs last year. The team is already touting their arrival as well, as they are already accepting pre-orders for their # 24 jersey.
Ramos understands that the B.League will be an entirely different challenge, but he believes it’s a challenge he’s ready for, thanks to the training he received from coach Tab Baldwin both at Ateneo and at Gilas Pilipinas.
“I came here (to the Philippines) quite inexperienced. I came and learned with Coach Tab as long as I could with Ateneo, then I continued with him with Gilas. And he really prepared me. to become a professional player, ”Ramos said.
“So I’m going to take everything I’ve learned from him and the rest of the Ateneo guys, and use it when I go to Japan,” he added.
His time with the national team, in particular, has been crucial for his development.
“Gilas is really a good preparation for me, it is very high level basketball that we played in the OQT (Olympic qualifying tournament), the Asian Cup against Korea, then we went to Jordan and have played against those guys over there, ”he explained.
“So I think Gilas really prepared me for this and I just can’t wait to go out there and get down to business.”
Aside from Ramos, the other B.League players this season are: Thirdy Ravena (San-En NeoPhoenix), Kiefer Ravena (Shiga Lakestars), Juan Gomez de Liano (Earthfriends Tokyo Z), Bobby Ray Parks Jr. (Nagoya Diamond Dolphins), Javi Gomez de Liano (Ibaraki Robots), Kemark Carino (Aomori Wat’s) and Kobe Paras (Niigata Albirex).
Toyama’s campaign opens on October 2 against the Shinshu Brave Warriors. Ramos will face a fellow Filipino for the first time on October 16, when they face Parks and the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins.