Dwight Ramos is an easy-going guy.
During the first three games in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, Ramos would wind up with norms of 12.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. And he made it seem effortless, able to tally the points through wide-open jumpers and easy lay-ins.
But South Korea is a whole different animal.
Tasked to be Gilas’ primary ball-handler to start the game, Ramos had the task to bring the ball down. Kim Nakhyeon and Lee Daesung made sure to hound Ramos as Korea deployed a box and 1 scheme.
The 6-foot-5 Ramos was visibly frustrated during the first eight minutes of action, committing two turnovers during that span.
“It was a wake-up call for me. Just the physicality of their players. they really pressured me and I just don’t think I was ready for that,” recalled Ramos.
“But as the game went on, I kind of adjusted a little bit, tried to protect the ball a little bit more.”
Following a pep talk by Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin, the 22-year-old settled down in the second quarter.
Then in the third quarter, Ramos proved himself a menace against South Korea. He scored nine points during the frame to help cut the once-17 point deficit down to just one with one quarter left.
“It was definitely a wake-up call for me.
“I think it shows we still need a lot of improvement. The game was going their way in the first quarter, first half,” he continued.
In the final frame, the rest of the young Gilas stepped up, going mano-y-mano against the pro-laden South Korea team.
Even when the going got tough, Gilas remained composed. And it capped the game wih SJ Belangel’s wild game-winner, leading to a stunning 81-78 win. It also punched the Philippines’ ticket to the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup this August.
Ramos knows that even in beating a highly-favored South Korean team — a squad favored to win by 6.5 points by bookmakers — they have yet to peak as a team.
“I’m super excited for our team. I mean, we have all young guys, they’re all excited to be here. And we’re just ready to work every time, every opportunity we get. You just want to work. I think everyone has the right attitude going into the game, to practice. We are all looking for more improvement,” said the Ateneo Blue Eagle, who wound up with 16 points, five rebounds, two steals, an assist, and a block.
“I know we won the game today but I still think that everyone’s thinking about how to improve and thinking about the next game now.”