Ranidel de Ocampo says international matches the crucial part of Gilas buildup
Ranidel De Ocampo is bracing for the most important part of Gilas' preparation for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila. Jaime Campos

RANIDEL de Ocampo is hoping Gilas Pilipinas will maximize its remaining local practice sessions and European training camp with the Olympic Qualifying Tournament less than a month away.

The Filipino dribblers have been training for the last three weeks and are now down to their last month of preparation for the competition that dangles one ticket to the Rio Olympics in August.

“Masyadong mabilis yung araw, ‘di ba?” De Ocampo said. “Hindi natin namalayan isang buwan na lang pala, laro na so pagkakasyahin na lang namin yung isang buwan namin, maging quality lahat ng gagawin namin.”

“Kailangan masulit namin yun,” added the versatile forward, who earlier hinted at international retirement, considering the looming return to the original Gilas program that will have amateurs representing the country.

After hosting Iran in tune-up games on Tuesday and Wednesday, the nationals fly on Friday to Greece where they will undergo a nine-day high-altitude training camp in Karpenisi. They then make a stopover in Turkey to face the country’s national team before leaving for Bologna, Italy for a pocket tournament. They return to Manila on June 28.

[See Who's in, who's out of Gilas Final 14?]

Gilas also had a plan to go to Turkey in preparation for last year’s Fiba-Asia Championship, but that failed to push through.

“Para sa akin, kailangan namin itong training na ito na hindi namin nagawa sa Gilas 3 eh, kasi last time, yung Turkey namin, hindi natuloy eh,” De Ocampo said.  “Ngayon, matutuloy kahit medyo masikip sa schedule. Nagawan pa rin ng paraan, nasingit. Malaking bagay yun, lalo na magagaling at malalakas yung kalaban namin.”

The 34-year-old De Ocampo knows very well the importance of undergoing go through an international camp, having been the only player to be part of all national teams since Gilas 1.0.

Gilas trained in Lithuania as buildup for the 2013 Fiba-Asia Championship and in Miami ahead of the 2014 Fiba World Cup, but settled for a pocket tournament in Estonia for last year’s continental showpiece.

“Hindi ko masabi na talagang ready na kami, pero gusto lang namin na maka-experience ulit ng laro ng international,” De Ocampo said. “Kailangan namin talaga ‘to. Gusto namin magawa yung mga gusto naming gawin.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos