MANILA, Philippines -- Dwight Ramos has emerged as the most consistent player for the Philippines in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers.
The Ateneo de Manila University forward is averaging 12.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.7 steals through three games -- including a "perfect" game against Thailand last November where he made all seven attempts from the field in a 93-61 win.
But with Matt Nieto going down with a broken left hand, Ramos has a new challenge posed to him by Gilas Pilipinas program director Tab Baldwin.
Baldwin, also the coach of the Blue Eagles, is asking Ramos to take on a bigger leadership role for the young national team, which will not feature any PBA players for their upcoming tournaments this month.
"With Dwight Ramos, it’s still a wish for us. He still has a personality that isn’t vocally oriented and it’s got to change. It’s a drum we’ve been beating, he’s changing slowly so it is what it is," said Baldwin.
"He knows that’s his job."
The generally soft-spoken Ramos is making a bigger effort to fulfill Baldwin's wishes, as he is working on becoming more vocal both on and off the court.
"Coach Tab has been challenging me to be more of a leader, be more vocal. That's something that I have been trying to work on. I'm not the loudest person but I'm trying," said Ramos, who transferred from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona to Ateneo two years ago.
"As time goes on, hopefully, I become more of a vocal guy for those young players because I might have a little more experience than them internationally," he said.
Ramos is taking his cues from a mainstay of the national team program, someone who has previously served as team captain -- NLEX guard and former Ateneo star Kiefer Ravena.
"I'm pretty close to Kiefer. If I have any questions, I just go to Kiefer. Kiefer was named our captain that one time," said Ramos. "If ever I need any help, that's the person I would go to."
Ramos and the rest of the national team are in the closing stretches of their preparation for the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers, which takes place from June 16 to 20 in Clark, Pampanga. They play South Korea on June 16 and 20, and Indonesia on June 18.
They then fly to Belgrade, Serbia for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, scheduled for June 29 to July 4.
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