MANILA, Philippines -- Even as the debate about "poaching" of local cagers by overseas leagues rages on, Dwight Ramos has a simple piece of advice for his fellow basketball players.
"Just do what makes you happy," Ramos said in a press conference on Wednesday, when he was formally introduced as the Asian import of Levanga Hokkaido for the 2022-23 season of the B.League.
Ramos, 24, was among the Filipino players who chose to ply their trade abroad -- in this case, Japan. The Filipino-American forward was supposed to play for Ateneo de Manila University, but with the UAAP in limbo because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ramos instead turned pro and signed with the Toyama Grouses last year.
After a solid campaign with Toyama, he inked a new deal with Hokkaido for the upcoming B.League season. Already, he has been branded as a "very integral" member of the team.
Ramos is just one of 11 Filipinos who will play in the B.League as an Asian import this year. That so many local cagers have taken their acts abroad has worried the local basketball federation, so much that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas raised the issue of "poaching" to the Senate recently.
Officials of the PBA have also expressed their concern to their B.League counterparts during a visit to Tokyo. According to executives of the local league, the exodus of Filipino players to Japan has affected not just the PBA but even the national team.
Ramos acknowledges that the B.League's popularity is rising in the Philippines, and the league has caught the attention of the Filipino players.
"Definitely a lot of players in the Philippines are aspiring to play here in Japan, so I think that's a big compliment to the B.League, how it's growing, how good of a league it's becoming," he said.
But while local basketball stakeholders appear concerned about the B.League's rising popularity, Ramos believes that the players should do what's best for them given their circumstances. More importantly, they should be allowed to make their own choices.
"My advice is, honestly it's just case by case. Lots of people are in different circumstances," said Ramos. "If you feel that you wanna take that jump and play outside of the Philippines, then do it."
"If you wanna play in the Philippines and stay with your family, then you do that. It's just all your choice," he stressed.
His commitment to his club team in Japan has not interfered with Ramos' duties with the Philippine national team. Barring injuries, he has always been available for Gilas Pilipinas, and is averaging 14.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
"That's kind of my advice, just do what makes you happy," he said.
Ramos and Levanga open their campaign on October 1 against the Akita Happinets.