by TITO S. TALAO
Manila, Philippines –I GUESS John Aldrech Ramos, the San Mig Coffee rookie, was no Robert Horry after all.
Mixers coach Tim Cone initially thought he was.
During the PBA Rookie Draft last August at Robinson’s Place in Ermita as Cone was on his way out of the lobby where the event took place, sportswriters about to have dinner saw him and waved.
Always friendly with the press, Cone doubled back to where the reporters were, put down his stuff and took a seat. Pretty soon, a lively impromptu post-draft interview was going on.
One of the questions thrown at Cone was what it was that made him decide to take Ramos at fifth overall ahead of Chris Ellis (6th), Chris Tiu (7th), Keith Jensen (8th), Vic Manuel (9th), and Jason Deutchman (10th).
“Did he remind you of any player you’ve seen or once handled?” Cone was asked.
Without hesitation, Cone replied: “Robert Horry.” I gripped my chair to keep from falling. “Robert who?” I asked, wanting to make sure I heard him right.
“Robert Horry, the guy who played for the Rockets, the Lakers and the Spurs,” Cone said, crystal-clear than ever.
Okay, I thought. Robert Horry. Got to check this young fellow Ramos out then. If Coach Tim sees a glimpse of a seven-time NBA champion in him, then he’s got to be one heck of a PBA rookie worth watching.
So I did. I can’t recall whether I quoted Cone on Horry when I wrote the article, but I sat on the press box through many San Mig games during the Philippine Cup and watched – watched and waited.
Ramos didn’t see much time on the floor in the first conference. Maybe, I figured, he will in the second – the Commissioner’s Cup, which starts Feb. 8, or even in the third – the Governors’ Cup. Tyros, after all, need time to acclimatize to the punishing PBA climate before they can blossom.
Then came the news.
In a text message sent out Tuesday afternoon, PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial said Ramos was shipped by San Mig Coffee to Barako Bull and later to Alaska in a blockbuster 10-player, 5-team trade approved by PBA commissioner Chito Salud.
“Robert Horry” had just been traded.
Now John Aldrech Ramos will have to do his transformation elsewhere, if at all.
So what happened? Was he taking a little too long in becoming someone he probably was not meant to be in the first place? Maybe.
Or the trade offer was just too tempting to refuse.
Whichever, Ramos could still surprise us all on his sophomore year. And if he does, then some people are bound to regret their decision not to wait a little longer for “Big Shot Bob.”
* * *
BUZZER-BEATER: My charming niece and goddaughter Lhaila Angelica Canedo Talao celebrated her 11th birthday last Jan. 6. Belated cheers and all the best, Lhaila!
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