Norwood, De Ocampo can rest easy as Gilas in good hands with new leader Jayson Castro
Ranidel De Ocampo and Gabe Norwood showed up to support Gilas Pilipinas in its final Seaba game against Indonesia on Thursday night. Jerome Ascano

RANIDEL de Ocampo sat courtside wearing a royal blue shirt with the words "LABAN PILIPINAS" emblazoned on it, watching Gilas school Indonesia in the Seaba Championship on Thursday.

Although he expected the outcome like most spectators did, De Ocampo was more than glad to see the favored Filipinos play the right way in its 97-64 drubbing of Indonesia to complete a sweep of the seven-nation showpiece at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

"Kahit ganun ang lamang, basta ang importante nakita natin teamwork, willingness manalo, at respeto nila sa kalaban kahit mahihina," said the former national team mainstay.

"Naglaro pa rin sila ng mabuti, pinakita nila kung paano tayo magbasketball, nirespeto nila basketball so magandang senyales yun."

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Gabe Norwood, the former Gilas skipper, shared his sentiments.

"You're convinced when the task is done and the task is to win gold, so that's fulfilling for these guys that came out and prepared hard. I'm happy for them," said the combo guard of Rain or Shine.

But what they're most proud of is Jayson Castro embracing the leader role with PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar. 

In the past, RDO and Norwood have shared the leadership role at Gilas with Marc Pingris and the now-retired Jimmy Alapag. Now they are delighted to see the usually reticent Castro becoming a more vocal leader for the new batch.

"Malaking bagay yun na ma-lead n'ya 'yung team. Kahit papano nagiging vocal na rin sya, na-practice nya na magsalita," said De Ocampo of his soft-spoken longtime teammate, both at TNT KaTropa and with Gilas Pilipinas.

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With Castro, Fajardo, and Aguilar leading the team, the two former Gilas stalwarts believe Gilas is in good hands ahead of the Fiba World Cup qualifiers in November.

"Basta tuloy tuloy lang programa, malayo mararating ng team natin," De Ocampo said.

"I think this is part of the process, you can't be ready for the World Cup today, it's about making it tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day after that. I think this is the great place to start and the sky is the limit," Norwood said.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @janbballesteros