TALK `N Text was obviously undermanned when it went up against Meralco as the sister teams made their debut in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Saturday night.
But for big man Ranidel de Ocampo, it certainly wasn’t an excuse. It was just a simple case of the Bolts being the better team when they came away with a 99-92 win at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
“Talagang outplayed kami ng Meralco. Tapos magaling din yung import nila (Bolts), malaking tulong sa kanila iyun,” De Ocampo said after the game.
The veteran forward admitted the reigning three-time Philippine Cup champions missed the services of big men Kelly Williams and Ali Peek. Williams failed to make it in time as his flight from the US was delayed due to a snow storm, while Peek is nursing a knee injury.
To make matter worse, shooting guard Jason Castro left the game early in the second half after reportedly suffering a bruised rib. He didn’t make it back in the game and finished with 17 points, including 15 in the second period when he led a huge Talk `N Text fightback from as much as a 24-42 deficit to just 41-48 at halftime.
He later underwent X-ray after the game to have his rib examined, according to Tropang Texters manager Aboy Castro.
Likewise, the Tropang Texters only started practicing last January 30 following an almost 10-day break to savor the team’s their third straight All-Filipino championship.
Talk `N Text was the last PBA team to start practicing for the import-laden tournament and only had one tune-up game against NLEX Road Warriors.
Still De Ocampo wouldn’t cite any of those reasons as an excuse.
“Kahit isang tune-up game lang kami, di excuse itong talo. Nagmintis kasi kami … missed lay ups, missed threes. Siyempre, iba na pag may import, di gaya kapag all-Filipino na medyo lamang kami sa tao,” added the former St. Francis of Assissi star.
De Ocampo had his hands full guarding Meralco import Eric Dawson, who finished the game with 37 points, 14 rebounds and three shot blocks in 37 minutes.
He also had go head-to-head against the wide-bodied Dawson in the stretch after Talk ‘N Text import Keith Benson fouled out with just three minutes left in the game.