RANIDEL de Ocampo wanted to refrain from talking about disgruntled import Denzel Bowles just to avoid saying something unpleasant about TNT KaTropa’s former reinforcement.
However, the veteran forward still found a way to reasonably explain what happened to Bowles, an import who was once considered as one of the most coveted reinforcements in the league.
"Siguro ano, ang nangyari kay Bowles ano e, siguro masyado lang siya naapektuhan nung nawala siya sa Star, tapos gusto niya makabalik, ayun," De Ocampo said after their 87-84 win in their tune-up match against Bowles' former Hotshots team.
Even before his announcement as TNT’s import, Bowles showed that he had a bone to pick with Star in taking his tirades towards his former team and then head coach Jason Webb.
[See TNT drops Bowles a day befoe start of Commissioner's Cup]
The animosity between Bowles and his former team almost hit a boiling point way before the conference began as Marc Pingris offered his import Tony Mitchell $100 for every successful dunk on Star’s former reinforcement.
That obviously didn't happen as Bowles was sent packing on Thursday.
It’s that mental baggage that made Bowles’ TNT stint short-lived, according to de Ocampo.
"Sa sobrang gusto niya makabalik, dami niyang iniisip so ang kalaban niya mental talaga. Parang di na niya nakakayanan, na-iistress siya, pati kami nadadamay sa kanya kaya nagkaganoon, at kailangan na siyang (pauwiin)," the former Gilas mainstay added.
But de Ocampo was happy to see his squad perform well in the tune-up match, even without an import and with national team members Jayson Castro, Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario all in the Gilas camp in Tagaytay.
In a way, it was a blessing in disguise for KaTropa as they were able to get more from their locals without their big guns.
"Sa tingin ko malaking bagay na kahit wala kaming import, nakuha namin yung goal namin na gawin yung mga tama sa loob ng court. At the same time, yung ibang mga player namin nag step-up. Gumawa sila ng paraan para makapagcontribute sila sa laro," de Ocampo said.
"Malaking bagay sa amin yun lalo na pag ang import namin na-foul trouble, or na-injure or ma-suspinde, kailangan din namin yung mga ganitong laro."