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Dwight Ramos: Gilas on right track

GILAS Pilipinas mainstay Dwight Ramos believes that the national squad's FIBA World Cup preparation is on the right track following its two-game sweep of its away games in the fifth window of the Asian qualifiers in Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The Philippines whipped Jordan in Amman, 74-66, before thumping a fighting Saudi Arabia five, 76-63, in Jeddah last Monday to improve the team's record to 5-3 in Group E.

Dwight Ramos FIBA.BASKETBALL PHOTO

Dwight Ramos FIBA.BASKETBALL PHOTO

“I think that was two good team wins. You could tell by just how balanced the scoring was,” Ramos said, who was on hand to watch his girlfriend Kim Kianna Dy play for F2 in the Philippine Volleyball League on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“Obviously there's still stuff we need to work on, but that comes with time and more practice. So we're on the way up.”

Ramos played a key defensive role in containing Jordan naturalized player Dar Tucker, while contributing five points, four assists, four steals and three rebounds in over 32 minutes of action.

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Against the Saudis, the 6-foot-4 Ramos played more aggressively on offense to finish with 13 points, along with four assists and three rebounds in the Filipinos' 13-point victory.

Ramos, who is set to return to Japan to play for his B.League team Levanga Hokkaido, intends to keep sharpening his game, knowing the tougher grind ahead when the Philippines serves as 2023 World Cup host.

In fact, Ramos expects the sixth and final window to be difficult considering that Gilas will go up against Lebanon and Jordan in February in a rematch, which the Philippines will be hosting at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan. But then again, he has high hopes that Filipino basketball fans will pack the largest indoor arena in the world when Gilas tries to close the Asian qualifiers with a bang.

“We're just trying to get two more wins against Lebanon and Jordan. Gonna have two tough games at home,” he said.

“I mean, Lebanon's crowd was huge when we went there. So hopefully when they come here, we can show 'em our crowd is even better.”

Lebanon nipped the Philippines in their initial face off, 85-81, in the fourth window in Beirut, despite Gilas being reinforced by NBA star Jordan Clarkson.

Come February, Gilas could possibly tap Barangay Ginebra resident import Justin Brownlee as naturalized player.

Ramos said he's excited to play alongside the 34-year-old Brownlee, who has led Ginebra to five PBA championships since serving as the team's import beginning in the 2016 Governors' Cup.

“I haven't met Justin Brownlee, but I've seen him play. Obviously, he's an amazing player. So hopefully I can start playing with him and stuff. He's obviously a good addition to the team,” he added.

The two-time PBA Best Import has been practicing with Gilas in recent months.

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