OPPORTUNITIES don't come often, and Dwight Ramos knew better to strike while the iron is hot.
And as much as he would've wanted to play for Ateneo in the UAAP, a bigger challenge has opened up as he now turns pro and joins the Toyama Grouses in the Japanese B.League.
"I wish I had the chance to wear Ateneo blue & white in the UAAP. However, due to the circumstances surrounding the pandemic presently and in the foreseeable future, I have decided to take my next step in my growth as a person and as an athlete," he wrote in an Instagram post on Friday.
The Fil-Am guard further elaborated: "I've been very blessed with the opportunity to learn from some of the best coaches and players here in the Philippines. And I really gained true friendships here with my teammates, and I proudly represented the country this past two short years. Cause of all of that, this new opportunity arose for me."
Ramos reiterated his commitment to the Gilas Pilipinas program, vowing to return whenever his number is called.
"My commitment will always be there for as long as I can keep playing at a high level and just keep running. To Boss MVP [Manny V. Pangilinan] and Boss Al [Panlilio], I thank you for all your support. I'm always going to be proud to represent the Philippines wherever I go," he said.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) special assistant to the president Ryan Gregorio said: "As far as the SBP is concerned, he assured us of his commitment to be part of the Gilas program. According to him, his desire to represent his flag and country will continue to be his top priority."
Ramos committed to the Blue Eagles in 2019 and was supposed to play in UAAP Season 83, until the global COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to temporarily close shop.
Since then, his travails have been limited to Gilas Pilipinas, where he proved his worth and averaged 13.8 points on 46-percent shooting from three, on top of 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 25.3 minutes to spearhead the country's 6-0 sweep of Group A in the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers.
Though he never had a chance to play an official UAAP game for Ateneo, Ramos remained grateful as he expressed glee in the time he spent in Katipunan.
"I just want to thank the Ateneo community for welcoming me and my brother and giving me the opportunity to be student-athlete at their school. The whole experience has been amazing for me. You welcomed me in with open arms, gave me and my brother a home," he said.
"It really opened doors for me in this otherwise challenging time, and I just want to thank Coach Tab [Baldwin], Ma'am Debbie [Tan], Boss Epok [Quimpo], Fr. Nemie [Que], and all my coaches and teammates for making me feel welcome here. I would have loved to officially play for the Blue Eagles and wear that blue and white, get that Ateneo experience especially playing in the UAAP."
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