The presence the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters had been missing for over a conference has finally returned to the hardcourt, and that presence was immediately felt again — like it had never left.
“Buti ngayon andyan na si Ranidel (de Ocampo). May tao na kami sa ilalim at pati yung outside shot niya. Si Ivan next game lalabas and we are running the (same) system so okay na ang team namin,” Jayson Castro said of de Ocampo’s return as TNT edged Blackwater, 108-102 Wednesday to jumpstart its Commissioner’s Cup campaign.
De Ocampo scored 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting, and added four rebounds and three assists in his first game back for the Tropa. He had suffered a herniated disc last year and missed six weeks.
The TNT forward could have returned as early as December last year but targeted a return in mid-January to make sure he was already in good condition.
TNT’s Philippine Cup campaign, however, ended early, as Rain or Shine eliminated the team in the quarter-finals. But the extra month-long break gave De Ocampo more time to recover and strengthen himself to get back to ideal form.
“Masarap ang pakiramdam sa unang game pa lang panalo agad. The last time nagchampion kami, ganito rin, good start, so sana mangyari ulit,” De Ocampo said. “Sobrang namiss ko maglaro, sabik na sabik ako.”
“Na-adjust ko na yung isip ko. Sa mga unang practice doon ako naiilang or nagwo-worry pero kailangan ko maging confident para wala na akong iniisip,” De Ocampo shared.
Right now, De Ocampo says his main target is to build even more confidence to be able to play without any doubt in mind.
“May mga ginagawa pa rin naman ako sa practice at iba ba bago matulog. Sa ngayon medyo nagta-tight pa siya, siguro nagre-react lang siguro. Nakapagpahinga naman ako ng mabuti. Siguro sa sobrang tagal lang nangangalay o sumasakit pero kumpiyansa namin ako,” he said.
“Sa ngayon kailangan ko pa ng mga ilang laro para masabi kong kuntento na ako. Sa ngayon proud ako sa pinakita ng team namin.”
The entire team is happy to have De Ocampo return, as his presence means more than just what’s seen on the stat sheets.
“His presence there. Ranidel has been a big part of the team ever since. All the little things that he does, whether scoring, rebounding, or guarding the import, he gets the job done. We are happy to have him back,” Ryan Reyes said.
“He is moving around really well and we are finding each other outside and inside. Just running the offense.”