RANIDEL De Ocampo’s veteran savvy and leadership could have been a big help as Meralco gets another shot at winning its first-ever PBA championship in the coming Governors Cup finals.
Unfortunately, the almost forgotten warrior remains on the Bolts’ injury list.
The 38-year-old ‘stretch 4’ is still hampered by recurring back problems that have hounded him for most of the season, and is expected to sit out as well the entire finals series of the season-ending conference against Barangay Ginebra.
Even if he's healthy right now for the best-of-seven showdown, De Ocampo said he’s definitely not in game shape.
“Hindi rin ako aabot ngayong conference,” was his curt reply about chances of suiting up for the Bolts.
Coach Norman Black stressed there’s no question the big help De Ocampo would extend to the team’s third final campaign if he’s healthy enough to play.
“If he could play, that would be a positive for our team,” he said. “But Ranidel is not on the active list because of health issues, so we will just go on with the guys who are available.”
De Ocampo’s injury has limited him to just three games this season, all of them in the Philippine Cup yet.
His best game this year saw him compile 15 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists in a 126-123 Meralco double vertime win against NorthPort last March.
The third finals meeting with Ginebra could have also given De Ocampo a shot at redemption.
During the 2017 Governors Cup title series, the native of Tanza, Cavite went down with a torn left calf muscle he sustained early in Game 3.
He never came back the rest of the finals which the Kings won in a memorable Game 7, 101-96, before a record crowd of 54,086 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.