At 34, Ranidel de Ocampo getting ready for his 'last hurrah' with Gilas
Ranidel De Ocampo and Marc Pingris are the most senior in the Gilas pool at 34. Jerome Ascano

HE earlier thought of retiring from the national team. Now, the decision won’t be hard to make.

Ranidel de Ocampo is embarking on what is likely his last hurrah for Gilas Pilipinas after the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas bared the plan to revert to the original program that, essentially, marks the end of PBA players' participation in the national team.

“Kung matuloy 'yun, baka last ko na rin ‘to,” revealed the Tropang TNT star, who has been Gilas’ premier stretch power forward the last several years.

De Ocampo believes it’s also the right time to step away, citing his status as among the eldest statesmen in the pool alongside Marc Pingris, who like him is also 34.

“Kami ni Ping ang pinakamatanda dito eh tsaka marami nang bata ang pwede pumalit eh,” the 6-foot-4 forward admitted. “Kahit ngayon, kung gusto nila na mas batang lineup, pwede eh.”

[See Return to original Gilas program signals end of PBA stars' participation in national team]

De Ocampo earlier pondered on hanging up his sneakers, at least in the international level, after suffering a herniated disc following a freak gym accident last October that sidelined him for three months.

But playing for the country was just too hard to pass up after he was called upon anew by coach Tab Baldwin.

“Nung na-injure ako, gusto ko na nga magpaalam nun, kaya lang nung nakabalik na ako sa paglalaro, pinabalik ako ni Coach Tab sa practice, nagustuhan ko na ulit,” he admitted. “Hindi ko rin matiis yung Gilas eh.”

Now, De Ocampo is enjoying every minute in his last practices as he fights for a spot in the squad for the Olympic Qualifying  Tournament in July.

“Tinanong niya ako kung gaano ako ka-pursigido, sabi ko ‘oo, coach, pero kung noon mo ako tinanong, nung kakabalik ko lang, baka hindi pa,’” he revealed. “Eh ngayon, okay na. nagustuhan ko na ulit.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos