Japan-bound Dwight Ramos not closing doors on PBA

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 20 2021 05:31 PM

Dwight Ramos in action for the Philippines. FIBA.basketball
Dwight Ramos in action for the Philippines. FIBA.basketball

MANILA, Philippines -- Dwight Ramos is not ruling out a stint in the PBA -- or in other leagues, for that matter -- after his campaign with the Toyama Grouses in Japan's B.League is over.

Ramos, who starred for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers, is the eighth Filipino player to sign in the B.League as an Asian import. 

All of those players, save for Kiefer Ravena, have not played in the PBA, instead opting to immediately take their talents abroad upon the conclusion of their collegiate careers. Ramos, for one, didn't even get to play for Ateneo de Manila University in the UAAP as the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out Season 83, where he would have made his debut.

The exodus of the country's collegiate stars to overseas leagues prompted a review of the PBA's rookie eligibility rules, and the league in July revealed a new policy where rookies who forgo the PBA Draft in their first year of eligibility will now have to wait for five years before they can join the league.

"I'm not too familiar with the 'draft dodger' rule," Ramos told former PBA commissioner Noli Eala on "Power and Play." "I didn't really think too much about that one when I was making the decision or anything."

"I was sort of looking at where was the best place for me right now to improve. I think it's in Japan for now," he added.

Ramos was quick to add, however, that he "always wanted to play in the PBA" and believes that it remains a possibility not just for him but also for the other Filipino players who are now Asian imports in Japan.

Also playing in the B.League 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).    

"Just like the locals in Japan, they wanna stay in Japan, play there. I think the same thing goes for us Filipinos," said Ramos. "We're just hoping that the opportunity comes again, and after we're all done with our stints overseas, that we can come back and play in the PBA."

For now, however, Ramos' full focus is on the campaign of Toyama, as he wants to help the team return to the B.League playoffs. Having signed a one-year deal with the team, Ramos said he will assess his options once the time comes.

"My mind is on this next season coming up for me, because that's obviously what's next. But then, after this season, that's when I'll start thinking about what's gonna happen for me after that," he said.

"And whether that's the PBA or if it's another league, then I'll just have to weigh my options there again," he added.

"After this year, I'll re-evaluate, see what options I have coming in, and then I'll make a decision again when the time comes."