JONG Uichico acknowledged the absence of do-it-all big man Ranidel De Ocampo heavily told on the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup campaign of TNT, which came to an abrupt end five days before the year 2015 ends.
But the Tropang Texters mentor is not about to single out the injury to RDO as the sole reason for the team’s failure to make it deep into the playoffs of the all-Filipino conference.
De Ocampo, according to Uichico, is not the be-all and end-all of the franchise.
“Malaking bagay si Ranidel, but that doesn’t mean naman we can’t find ways to win without Del,” said Uichico following TNT’s exit in the quarterfinals with its 104-89 loss to Rain or Shine in the league’s final playdate for the year.
“We’ve got enough good players naman (to rely on),” he stressed.
De Ocampo has not suited up for the team since suffering a back injury early in the eliminations of the tournament.
Initially, the Tropang Texters hoped the versatile big man would be back in harness in time for the playoffs, but his projected total recovery from the injury has since been moved for the mid-season Commissioner’s Cup, where TNT is the defending champion.
In his absence, load of the burden mostly fell on the hands of star point guard Jayson Castro, although big rookies Mo Tautuaa and Troy Rosario also did their share on both ends of the floor.
“We now started relying on our two rookies to carry the team with Jayson,” noted Uichico. “We might be asking too much naman from our two rookies, but they’ve been playing well naman.”
Against Rain or Shine, Uichico said TNT was simply outplayed.
The Tropang Texters were outscored by the Elasto Painters at the paint, 50-30, had less production from their bench, 60-48, and off turnovers, 18-10.
Worse, TNT finished 21-of-36 from the foul line, including 2-of-7 by Tautuaa.