Even if he’d left several months ago, meeting the TNT Katropa as opponents still brought mixed emotions for Ranidel De Ocampo.
For the very first time since being traded to the Meralco Bolts back in September 2017, the 36-year-old De Ocampo went up against his former team on Friday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
De Ocampo actually had chances to face TNT before, but injuries – particularly in his lower extremities – hindered him.
“Mixed lang. Mixed emotions, mixed feelings,” admitted the versatile forward.
It’s understandable where he’s coming from. In his ongoing 14-year career in the pro league, De Ocampo spent nine years under the Talk ‘N’ Text umbrella – a stint that was indeed fruitful.
From 2008 to 2017 with the Texters, De Ocampo had collected six PBA championships, two Finals MVPs, a 2014 Governor’s Cup BPC award, and three Mythical First Team selections.
But then, basketball will always be about business, where things are uncertain most of the time.
“Naguusap-usap lang [kaming mga dating magkakasama],” said De Ocampo, also a former mainstay in the Gilas Pilipinas program.
“Medyo may kaunting usap lang pero focused parin sa game.”
Unfortunately, De Ocampo and his Meralco bowed to TNT, 85-91, no thanks to the 30-point, 12-rebound outing of Troy Rosario – the heir apparent of De Ocampo, as he is now TNT’s top forward.
“Ganun talaga,” relayed De Ocampo after the loss, where he contributed 11 points on nine attempts along with six caroms. “Siyempre match-up naman talaga yung TNT at Meralco kahit dati pa.”
It’s not known when De Ocampo and TNT will cross paths again. But for the Caviteño, it would be much fun if – and only if – he and the Bolts will face the Katropa again in a playoff game.
“Siyempre ibang storya na yun ‘pag nagkaharap kami sa playoffs,” De Ocampo vowed.
“First time namin sila nakaharap ngayon, siguro sa susunod mas exciting, mas grabe at mas intense.”