Gilas Pilipinas will feature the country's next generation of stars for the upcoming first window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.
The announcement made by Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) of its 24-man pool was met with excitement and anticipation as it contained a collection of PBA stars and collegiate standouts. Most of them were already household names, but among them was a little-known Filipino-American player named Dwight Ramos.
Ramos is a 6-foot-5 guard out of California who will make his UAAP debut for the Ateneo Blue Eagles in Season 83. At 20 years old, he is among the youngest players included in the pool alongside Dave Ildefonso, Kobe Paras, and brothers Juan and Javi Gomez de Liaño.
Ramos already caught the attention of many college scouts when he was playing for Walnut High School. He then joined the Cal State Fullerton, an NCAA Division 1 school that competes in the Big West Conference. He spent two years with the Titans, playing in 42 games and putting up quiet numbers of 2.8 points per game.
In his junior year in 2018, he transferred to Cal Poly-Pomona and played 28 games for the Broncos in NCAA Division 2 basketball, averaging 6.6 points. By 2019, he was recruited by Ateneo and has been with the school since, completing his one-year residency.
"Coach Tab (Baldwin) and Epok Quimpo (Ateneo team manager) mainly scouted him and they were the ones who really recruited him," shared Ateneo assistant Sandy Arespacochaga. "But it's easy to see why. [He's] very simple in how he plays. There's no wasted movement.
"Makes excellent reads, makes good decisions. Passes very well. Strong and agile. Can play multiple positions. Good character too."
A team official of a rival collegiate program who also tried to recruit Ramos described him as an "excellent all-around player. (He) can play 1 (point guard) to 4 (power forward) positions. Smart, highly skilled, can shoot even from long distance."
Ramos is set to bolster the three-time defending UAAP champions who saw the departure of mainstays Matt and Mike Nieto, Thirdy Ravena, Adrian Wong, and Isaac Go. Ramos is joined by his younger brother Eli, a 6-foot-3 guard, who saw action with the Fil-Am Sports USA in the NBTC. The older Dwight will have two playing years for Ateneo while Eli still has all five years of eligibility. The Ramos brothers will be key additions to the Blue Eagles' still formidable lineup of SJ Belangel, Tyler Tio, Ange Kouame, Will Navarro, and Gian Mamuyac.
Ramos' name has been circulating in the headlines as early as January 2018 when former Gilas coach Chot Reyes included the versatile guard in the Gilas 23 for 2023 pool. Two years later, he remains a young top talent that will hopefully take Gilas basketball to greater heights.
"I think his game will translate to international ball well," added Arespacochaga. "He is smart. He can do a little bit of everything on offense and defense and will be a good system player."
After announcing its 24-man contingent, Gilas Pilipinas will start preparing for the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup this February. The Philippines will go up against Thailand on the 20th and Indonesia on the 23rd.