The sun is rising.
Dwight Ramos, one of the most popular Filipino basketball players today, wakes up in his flat to get ready for the day. It’s a different feeling–being far from your loved ones, living life as an import in a foreign country.
“I couldn’t have pictured a better life. Just having the routine of rising to play the game we love. It’s the best,” Ramos told SLAM Philippines.
Everything in the life of Ramos has been a whirlwind thus far. The US-born Filipino went from playing college basketball in Los Angeles, to being contacted by Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin to play for the Blue Eagles, to getting a Gilas Pilipinas call-up, to playing as the shooting guard for the Toyama Grouses in Japan’s B.League. Ramos’ life has changed dramatically in a pandemic-filled three years.
“It’s crazy, man. I did not imagine my life going this way. I was just happy playing basketball, then to be approached by Ateneo, Gilas, and now Toyama is a blessing. The pandemic has changed a lot of people, but I’m grateful for how my life is going despite everything,” he said.
Another big change: he now needs to shovel snow out of his car in the morning—something unfamiliar to someone who lived in Los Angeles and Manila for most of his life. Snow shoveling aside, his morning routine has stayed pretty much the same. He still wakes up very early to get in a morning workout after breakfast. That’s how the day starts whether it’s a rest day or game day.
Eat, ball, sleep. Repeat.
Sometimes, Ramos shared, he would grab a bite in the local Costco store and would hang out with his fellow Filipinos in the B.League if their schedules matched. This would be a rare occurrence though since the B.League held 60 games in a season. The Filipinos in Japan usually try to catch up with each other at every opportunity.
On game days, Ramos enjoys the feeling of traveling like a professional athlete and being around great teammates who have welcomed him into their Toyama family. Life with the Grouses’ has been great as the American and Japanese veteran players in the team take care of him, spend time with each others’ families, and help him adjust to the new setting.
“My team has been unbelievable. They are very comforting and are great mentors especially for a young guy like me. That’s definitely a plus since we usually play back-to-backs on Saturday and Sunday, so assessing my performance and managing my body is so important,” Ramos said.
The Toyama Grouses currently hold a 28-10 win-loss record, only six games behind a wildcard spot to get into the playoffs. Ramos is averaging 10.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 24 minutes a game in his rookie season.
Ramos attributes his development as a person and as a player to his Gilas coach in helping him grow to be a professional player in Japan. He learned how to be consistent and sharpened his ability to deal with failure in his two years of learning from Baldwin in the Philippines.
“My time with Coach Tab was definitely my fastest development as a player in less than two years. He really taught me how to play as a guard, how to deal with games where my shot is not falling, and to play in a system. He really emphasized the importance of the offseason to improve my game and I will definitely take that here,” he said.
It’s only been months, but Ramos continues to grow and learn, living life as a B.League import. One of his biggest takeaways so far: take that jump.
“Don’t be afraid to take risks. Because I did not know if I was even ready to move countries, play basketball without conditioning, or adjust constantly in a pandemic,” he said.
When his day of adding another clip to his highlight reel or just soaking in the Japan sights ends, it’s just Dwight Ramos, alone in his room. Life has been good to him so far, but Ramos knows there’s still a lifetime of basketball ahead of him. He thinks about the lost time. He thinks about home. He knows he’s just getting started.
“The ride has really been fun, to be honest, but I think I was under quarantine for more than two months in 2021 with all the traveling we did. Just imagine how much your performance and conditioning are impacted just by being in your room for what, 3, 5, or 14 days?” Ramos said.
“This has definitely been a blessing and I can’t wait to play in the Philippines again.”
(Photos by B.League, FIBA, Dwight Ramos Instagram)