MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas stars Thirdy Ravena and Dwight Ramos practically carried the national team in their two games against India and New Zealand in the second window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
The current Japan B. League imports exerted maximum effort in trying to give the country a decent showing in their two home games, and wowed fans and foes alike, most notably New Zealand head coach Pero Cameron.
“Ramos is always tough. He’s a quality player. They have a lot of quality players and I think it must have been tough getting the group together like most teams. They played pretty [well],” said the FIBA Hall of Famer after the Kiwis’ 88-63 blowout over Gilas.
“Thirdy Ravena, he’s exciting to watch also, and it’s great seeing young talent coming through from the college ranks. It was really enjoyable.”
Cameron also gave props to TNT Tropang Giga guard Kib Montalbo, whom he called “defensive” and “one of my favorite players to watch.”
Ramos and Ravena were actually last-minute surprise additions to the current national team following the mass exodus of Gilas PBA draftees, and the shock exit of former coach Tab Baldwin.
However, the duo immediately showed their improvement from their time in Japan as Ravena paced the New Zealand loss with a game-high 23 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals, albeit with a 3-of-10 clip from the free throw line.
Ramos also made his presence felt across the stat sheet with a staggering line of 18 markers, 10 boards, 5 dimes, 3 steals, and 3 blocks.
Gilas still has quite a bit of catching up to do after a rushed retooling, but Cameron is nonetheless pleased with the progress Filipino basketball is making throughout the years despite some notable setbacks.
“We watch a lot of these players that play overseas and also in the pro leagues here,” he said. “They’ve come on from the college systems in the Philippines, and [basketball] is massive, and it’s good to see it. It stands high in the Filipino community, and it’s great.” – Rappler.com