Who is Dwight Ramos?
That was a question probably asked a number of times after the relatively unknown player was included in Gilas Pilipinas' 12-man lineup for the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers.
Before the qualifiers, Ramos had never played a game for the national team and in the UAAP, where he is set to suit up for Ateneo in Season 83.
Yet as soon as he was slotted in as part of the bench mob against Indonesia, Ramos proved he belonged in the team that had 7 PBA players and other amateurs touted as the future of Philippine basketball.
As cool as a cat, Ramos silently churned out 5 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 assists in 16 minutes of play as the Philippines hammered out a 100-70 win over Indonesia last February 23.
Nine months later, Ramos finally showcased his wares, dropping 20 points on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting to go with 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals as the Philippines dominated Thailand, 93-61, in the first of their two meetings in the second window on Friday, November 27.
While he burst onto the scene for Gilas Pilipinas, it was actually a long time coming for the 21-year-old.
Born to Filipino father Artemio, who hails from Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, and Russian mother Liliya, Ramos was eyed to join the Philippines' youth team.
"I think I was supposed to play for the Batang Gilas a while ago but me and my dad weren't so sure about coming yet. I was still young," Ramos said.
"We got our passports ready – everything for the future – but we just didn't make it for the Batang Gilas."
Instead, Ramos pursued a collegiate career in the US NCAA, where he played for Division 1 school Cal State Fullerton for two years before transferring to Division 2 school Cal Poly Pomona.
His stint in Division 2 basketball, though, did not pan out.
After a year at Cal Poly Pomona, Ramos felt it was time to come to the Philippines as he and younger brother Eli chose to suit up for Ateneo and Tab Baldwin, who recruited Dwight since he was in high school.
"I started playing college basketball there, that was my dream at the time," Ramos said.
"Then a couple years passed, I decided that I had a new dream coming here – playing for the national team, getting a new start here."
Baldwin, who also serves as program director for Gilas Pilipinas, had high praises for Ramos not just because of his abilities but also his personality.
"I generally don't select guys I don't have very high character in. He comes from a great family. His mother and father are wonderful people. He's got a great brother in Eli," the multi-titled tactician said.
"His character is excellent."
A physical specimen for the guard spot at 6-foot-4, Ramos has also impressed Baldwin with his composure and his feel for the game.
"I think the future is very bright for him in international basketball. But again, he has to continue to prove himself every day in training," Baldwin said. "I think the long-range forecast for him is very positive."
For someone basketball-crazed Filipinos were keen to watch play, Ramos did not have a conscious effort to leave a lasting mark.
"I'm not looking to trying to do too much, play outside of myself. I'm just going to try to do the little things and support the team how I can," said Ramos.
His poise was evident against the Indonesians in the first window as he never forced the issue and seemed to always execute the right play.
Save for two contested short stabs that missed, Ramos hardly made mistakes.
"He's got like a calmness about himself that [you need] in international basketball," said then Gilas Pilipinas coach Mark Dickel.
As Gilas Pilipinas continues to lay the foundation for the future with the country co-hosting the 2023 FIBA World Cup with Japan and Indonesia, Ramos wants to polish the rough edges around his game.
"I'm really young right now so I'm just looking to start learning from the vets, the PBA guys," Ramos said. "I'm just trying to learn from them, trying to improve my game for the future." – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.