WHEN import Peter John Ramos was first offered to play for KIA playing coach Manny Pacquiao, the Puerto Rican admitted he waited for a punchline.
All the while, Ramos thought it was a joke.
But when the offer had been made and when he finally verified that Pacquiao, indeed, is calling the shots for the Sorento, he gamely signed the contract and took the flight to Manila early this week.
“The first time they (KIA officials) contacted me, I thought it was a joke. I didn’t know nothing about it (KIA being coached by Pacquiao). But now that I’m here, I’m excited,” the 7-foot-3 Ramos told Spin.ph, shortly after concluding his first practice on Friday with the Sorento at the Clover Leaf gym in Guadalupe, Makati.
The 29-year-old Ramos is actually excited to meet the 5-foot-6 Pacquiao for dinner late Friday, saying the world welterweight champion is “boxing’s greatest fighter."
“He’s (Pacquiao) my favorite boxer and I’m excited to meet him. I watched his fights. He’s the greatest,” added Ramos, who at 19 became part of Puerto Rico’s proud basketball history when its national team defeated the NBA-bannered United States team, 92-73, in the preliminaries of the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Ramos, who arrived in Manila on Thursday afternoon, admitted that there’s a lot of work to be done to help the Sorento get to the playoffs in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
But the wide-bodied Puerto Rican slotman said he’s up to the challenge of taking the lead role for a young KIA squad, which, for much of the Philippine Cup, was led by forward Reil Cervantes.
“I’ll just try to help the team get better and just win a couple more games and make it to the playoffs,” said the native of Fajardo, Puerto Rico, a countryman of former Pacquiao rival Miguel Cotto.
Another compatriot is Renaldo Balkman, who was banned from the PBA after an attack on Petron teammate Arwind Santos.
“I’m a scorer and a passer, rebounder but I’m just trying to make the team better, so we’ll get to know each other.”
The KIA reinforcement is expected to play for the Sorento on Sunday when they hold a scrimmage game against fellow expansion team Blackwater, which has 7-foot-1 American Chris Charles as its import.
Ramos was the third Puerto Rican player to ever be drafted in the NBA when he was selected 32nd overall pick by the Washington Wizards in 2004.
His career NBA averages are 1.8 points, 0.7 rebound and 0.2 block in a total of six regular season games in 2004 with the Wizards.
He also played for the NBA Developmental League’s Idaho Stampede and Roanoke Dazzle where he compiled career averages of 14.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 76 games overall.