Dwight Ramos became the eighth Filipino cager to play professionally in Japan after signing a contract with the B.League’s top division side Toyama Grouses.
The Grouses made the announcement Friday, Sept. 10 as the Gilas Pilipinas star opted to forego his UAAP eligibility with Ateneo and suit up in the Land of the Rising Sun under the B.League’s Asian Player Quota rule.
“I am very excited to play in the city of Toyama, it is a dream to play in such a beautiful city and country in Japan,” said Ramos in a statement released by the club on its website.
“I hope to win a lot of games and bring pride to the city of Toyama together with my new teammates. I hope to see the fans at our games cheering for us all season.”
Ramos joins a Toyama club which made the B.League playoffs with a 39-21 record before being eliminated in the quarterfinals by Ryukyu Golden Kings.
“The team made the playoffs last season, I hope to contribute to a championship run this season,” he said.
Ramos is the seventh Filipino to follow the lead of Thirdy Ravena, who made Japan debut last season with the San-En Neophoenix.
During the B.League offseason, Japanese club acquired the services of Kiefer Ravena, brothers Juan and Javi Gomez de Liano, Ray Parks Jr., Kobe Paras and Kemark Carino.
Ravena will play for the Shiga Lakestars, Parks with the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins, Paras for Niigata Albirex BB and Javi Gomez de Liano for the Ibaraki Robots.
Juan Gomez de Liano and Carino were signed by second division clubs in the B.League, namely the Earthfriends Tokyo Z and Aomori Wat’s.
“Basketball in Japan is growing every year and I’m very excited and grateful for the opportunity to play in such an amazing place,” said Ramos.
The dashing 23-year-old joined Ateneo after a stint with US NCAA Division I school Cal State Fullerton. But the COVID-19 pandemic denied Ramos a chance to play even a single UAAP game for the Blue Eagles with the cancellation of Season 83.
That didn’t prevent Ramos from making a name for himself and spent part of the pandemic donning the Gilas uniform in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.
Ramos averaged 13.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.0 assists in six games with the national team during the three windows held in Indonesia, Bahrain and Angeles City, Pampanga.
A groin injury, however, kept Ramos out of Gilas’ campaign in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia.