MANILA, Philippines – Many peg Ranidel de Ocampo as the missing piece in Meralco’s quest for a championship.
With De Ocampo winning multiple championships with the Talk ‘N Text franchise, it’s not hard to see why.
The veteran forward has collected six titles in his storied 13-year stint. Drafted fourth overall by the now-defunct FedEx Express, De Ocampo is now entering the final chapter of his career.
And despite the experiences he has logged – and the accolades that go with it – the versatile big man prefers not to be tagged as that final cog for the Bolts title bid.
“Actually, ‘di ko rin masasabing ‘missing piece’ kasi ‘di lang naman ako ang kinuha nila — meron si Garvo Lanete, si Mike Tolomia,” De Ocampo shared.
“Marami rin kaming dumagdag. Mangyayari lang ‘yon kung mananalo kami. Kapag nanalo kami, masasabi nang kami nga ‘yung inantay na missing [piece]. Ganoon,” he continued.
After commendable contributions in the playoffs, Jared Dillinger and Allen Durham — who were on the receiving end of a heartbreaking loss to Ginebra in the 2016 edition of the Governors’ Cup Finals — said that the 6-foot-6 stretch forward is the weapon they’ve waiting for in their rematch with their tormentors.
But De Ocampo, ever the mellow and cheerful person that he is, believes that Meralco already has what it takes to avenge last year’s foiled campaign.
“I think alam naman ng Meralco ‘to at ng buong team kung paano talunin yung Ginebra. Sa tingin ko sila pa nga yung mag dadagdag sa akin ng tips eh,” he offered.
As far as he’s concerned, De Ocampo’s marching orders are to simply help his new team be in the best position to snare their first ever title.
“‘Yung mga naging experience ko sa playoffs, finals series, ganoon, sana macontribute or maprovide ko sa Meralco Bolts,” he said. “At the same time, mabigyan ko rin ng reminders yung mga mas bata, kahit papaano.”
After all, De Ocampo feels that the Bolts are ripe for it. Heck, they soundly beat Ginebra even with the latter’s souped-up frontcourt featuring Justin Brownlee, Joe Devance and the rejuvenated Greg Slaughter.
“Tingin ko mas ready ang Meralco ngayon kasi last year, first time nilang mag Finals eh,” he said. “Ngayon, pangalawa na. Feeling ko mas ready na ngayon, mas nagmature na yung mga bata na maglaro sa Finals.”
“Talagang para sa akin, deserve ng Meralco. Ang tagal na rin nila sa PBA eh.”
The Bolts and the Gin Kings tangle tonight in Lucena City to kick off their best-of-seven finals rematch.