ANTIPOLO - As fleet-footed as he is on the court, Jayson Castro is hoping he and the rest of TNT KaTropa can be as quick off it as far moving on from the departure of longtime stalwart Ranidel de Ocampo.
The Texters were surprised to see the top stretch forward get traded to Meralco only a few days ago in a three-team deal that landed them Justin Chua, Norbert Torres and a first-round pick from San Miguel Beer in this year’s draft.
“First, nung nalaman namin, nakakalungkot, pero siguro may rason kung bakit tinrade siya,” Castro said after their 112-107 win over NLEX on Wednesday night. “And then nakakapanibago kasi siya yung team captain namin, siya yung vocal, yung leadership niya, at the same time, parang siya yung pinaka-anchor namin, kasi siya yung parang beterano na eh.”
“Pero kailangan namin mag-move on, kasi may mga game pa naman,” The Blur was quick to add.
Still, Castro admitted it will be tough to replace the leadership brought on and off the court by De Ocampo, who won six championships in his almost nine years with the Texters.
“Pero hindi mo naman mapapalitan yung isang Ranidel sa isang team,” Castro said.
De Ocampo is the third player to leave the championship core of the Texters after Jimmy Alapag (retirement) and Larry Fonacier (trade).
“Siguro may plan yung management,” Castro said when asked to comment on the championship core players leaving one by one. “And then kung ano yung mga nandito, sila na lang siguro yung (inaasahan) namin.”
“We have a magandang team naman eh,” he added. “Kailangan ma-maximize yung potential ng mga iba.”
Asked if he will have to take on a heavier responsibility on and off the court without RDO, Castro is embracing the challenge, but is also seeking help from fellow veterans Kelly Williams, Ryan Reyes, and Harvey Carey.
“Tina-try ko naman yun (maging leader), pero syempre, iba pa rin yung Ranidel at Jimmy before,” Castro inssited. “Alam niyo naman na hindi ako ganun ka-vocal, pero sa game lang talaga.
“And then meron naman like sila Harvey, Kelly, Ryan, sila yung ano namin ngayon, so maganda naman yung game namin ngayon,” he added.
Indeed, the Texters seemed to have transitioned seamlessly in the post-De Ocampo era if their hard-earned win over the Road Warriors is any indication.
“Hindi naman siguro naapektuhan (yung campaign namin),” Castro insisted. “Yun nga yung sabi ni Ranidel na isang advice niya sa amin na i-accept namin kaagad at mag-move on na lang, kasi ganun talaga yung basketball, ‘di ba? Hindi natin control.”