Nikko Ramos Scoring Big Outside the Court

March 19, 2021
Nikko Ramos (@nikkorms) is Lemi’s Local Expert of the Week. Download Lemi on the App Store or Google Play to see more of his expert-approved recommendations.

For diehard Filipino basketball fans, Nikko Ramos is a known presence. He began his career analyzing and reporting on the sidelines for a collegiate basketball team, then went on to be one of the highly sought-after sportscasters for the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). On top of this, he juggled editorial work at SLAM Philippines and a long-running radio broadcasting gig at Magic 89.9. After 10 years on radio, he eventually made a bold move and decided to wear a corporate hat for good—now leading powerhouse basketball concept store Titan 22 as Director for Brand Content. 

“I don’t recall the last time I ever did one thing,” he shares. “There’s always been levels in priorities. It’s not a single-season championship with a clear beginning, middle, and end for me.”

This multi-hyphenate is so skilled, he made it all look so easy. But he also recognizes the hustle in living such a non-linear, creative career arc. He likened his grit to that of an athlete with a short-term but laser-focused memory:

“If you win 10 games in a row, you don’t assume you’re going to win the 11th. You come into each game with the same approach and intention to win before you think of all the other ones.”

It goes without saying that excellence is a cornerstone in Nikko’s work. He had no qualms admitting that he aims to be an elite level, and anything less than that is unacceptable. He remembers loving basketball as a young kid when he would watch VHS tapes of the Showtime Lakers instead of the usual cartoon. “I didn’t know about kids’ programming on TV; I thought it was just basketball!” he recalls of his early days as a sports fanatic. Eventually, he tried to elevate his love for the game into something more serious, going through training and trying out for the university basketball team. He was hopeful that his interests would directly translate to his skills, but it didn’t pan out well. “At some point, I decided that if I’m not going to be around sports playing, I just want to be around sports—period. So I did the next best thing.”

It was his moments with high-profile icons such as Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant that he dove into with passion. There are obvious parallels to the process, and his experience interviewing the greats has earned him front-row seats. “There are commonalities that you pick up from talking to them, from seeing how they work and approach things that if you follow, it can only do you good.” While the old saying states to “never meet your heroes” because rarely do they live up to the pedestal that you put them in your head, Nikko chooses to look at it in a different light: “You get to see that they’re more than their point-per-game average or championship rings—it humanizes them, and I mean that in the best way.”

The seismic changes of 2020 have provided Nikko with opportunities for massive growth. Aside from personal milestones (he tied the knot with long-time beau Bea Fabregas last year!), he also delved into the world of podcasts, which isn’t really foreign to him. He started 9 years ago when podcasting wasn’t a popular thing yet, but only settled with about two to three episodes. “I can’t begin to tell you how long I’ve been a big fan of the medium. I used to even explain to people what podcasts were!” he says. At the onset of lockdown, he found a big void in the field of sports, then started exploring and listening to a variety of podcasts. “Before I knew it, I was R&D-ing the whole thing!” 

He needed an equally strong team to pull off the sports podcast he had in mind, so he sought help from his good friends and colleagues Toby Amigo and Allen Martin for the three-man project. What followed was extensive research and invitations going out to focal sports personalities to join them. From trending interviews to deep dives into the hottest stories on pop culture, sneakers, and the likes, Call To Arms has built a loyal following. “We had an incredible first run, having guys and girls we never thought we’d be able to get!” Nikko happily shares. As of this writing, the podcast shows no sign of slowing, having recently kicked off Season 2 with a call with one of PBA’s all-time greats, Jimmy Alapag. 

With his sophisticated accent and confident demeanor, it’s easy for Nikko to be labeled as a well-off guy from the start. “I didn’t come from a place of money. People get the misconception because I was born in Los Angeles, but I was brought back here, and I grew up in Marikina,” he shares. He hasn’t spent much time in “the city” growing up, and in college, chose to study at UP Los Baños. Coming from a small town bubble has its fair share of pros and cons, but if there’s anything Nikko has stuck with throughout the years, it’s his constant strive to do better. 

“Be so good that you cannot be ignored,” he advises small-town hopefuls. He recognizes the advantage of the affluent in the competition: “I hate to be so blunt about it, but there are some people who have a headstart on certain things—they’re well-connected, they’re more adjusted, they have better resources. It’s not their fault and props to them, but to stand out, you have to be better than those people.”

It was something that Nikko has accepted early on in his career, relying not just on opportunities that come his way, but on endless hard work to stay on top of his game.

“Of course, it’s not fair! But there’s a level of unique excellence: in ability, skill, and competence, that once you achieve, it no longer matters where you’re from.”

Nikko Ramos is on Lemi at @nikkorms!

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