Ranidel de Ocampo embraces challenge to help Meralco win first title, but admits trade still hurts
Ranidel de Ocampo said he was told about the painful trade after it was already done. Jaime Campos

THE end to an almost decade-long partnership between Ranidel de Ocampo and TnT Katropa was like a painful breakup between two long lovers.

But like in any separation, de Ocampo knows this too shall pass.

Although still hurting, De Ocampo welcomed the opportunity to play for new team Meralco with renewed enthusiasm of helping the franchise win a first-ever PBA championship.

The 35-year-old veteran, who redefined the power-forward spot with his accurate shooting from 20-feet and beyond, attended his first practice with the Bolts on a rainy Tuesday, less than 24 hours after being shipped by his former mother ballclub in a three-team trade that also involved Phoenix.

“Mahirap mag-move on, kailangan pa rin nating timbangin,” De Ocampo related to SPIN.ph. “Pero dapat magawan agad natin ng paraan para maka-adjust.”

“Oo masakit din,” was his curt reply when asked if he was hurt by the trade hardly anybody expected to happen, much more to him.

“Siyam na taon din ako sa TNT. Halos buong career ko sa TNT na. Lima na lang kaming beterano doon na kasama sa mga nakaraang championships, tapos nawala pa ako,” said de Ocampo, mentioning Jayson Castro, Kelly Williams, Ryan Reyes, and Harvey Carey as the only ones left behind from the core of all the six championships he won while with the telecommunication franchise.

He also mentioned Danny Seigle and Charles Water as those still with TNT who also won a title with the team.

The many-time stalwart of Gilas Pilipinas disclosed he has had no idea about being traded, although he’s been hearing rumors about it that became deafening late Monday afternoon.

He was told about it when the deal was finally sealed.

“After na, nung tapos na yung trade, tsaka sa akin sinabi,” said RDO with an obvious sadness on his voice.

[See Ranidel de Ocampo ends up in Meralco after TNT trades stalwart in three-team deal]

Good thing, Meralco made him feel at home right on his first day with the team, where he’s reunited with former TNT teammates Jimmy Alapag (deputy coach of the Bolts), Jared Dilinger, Garvo Lanete, and coach Norman Black.

“Naramdaman ko naman sa Meralco na excited sila (sa pagdating ko). Welcome na welcome ako,” he said. “So doon pa lang, I think maka move on na agad ako pag tumagal.”

Of course, things will be different compared to TNT, which RDO referred to as family, which he said he’ll surely miss.

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“Siyempre, ma-miss mo yung samahan. From ballboy, utility, teammates mo, coaching staff, yung TnT fans na very supportive, and yung kabuuan nung management,” said the ‘stretch 4’ out of St. Francis of Assisi College.

But it’s a new start for him, and de Ocampo is willing to accept the challenge.

“Sana nga makatulong ako sa team para maging successful din ang Meralco. Nakikita ko naman maganda yung samahan dito,” he said. “Nagpapasalamat ako kay coach Norman, kay boss Paolo Trillo, and siyempre kay Boss Al Panlilio.”

De Ocampo also didn’t have problems being fitted with a new Meralco uniform, saying, ‘iisa lang naman gumagawa ng uniform namin with TNT so alam na nila yung size ko.’

And he has one wish other than becoming a part of the Bolts’ breakthrough championship in the league.

“Sana dito na ako mag-retire, hanggang matapos yung career ko,” said de Ocampo. 

 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos