SOME guys endure long waits before experiencing a coveted championship in the PBA; others are even more unfortunate, with team success eluding them for an entire career.
But there’s a select few that are just so blessed and won’t run out of good fortune.
Yancy de Ocampo is a part of that lucky list, evidenced by capturing his 10th league championship on Friday night when San Miguel Beer finished off Magnolia in the Philippine Cup Finals with a 108-99 double-overtime win in Game Five.
The 16-year veteran has now tied Rafi Reavis with the most championships among active players, notching the feat at the same time fellow veteran teammate Chico Lanete won only his first title in his 11th year in the league.
“Syempre nagpapasalamat ako na kahit ngayon…blessed pa rin talaga ako,” De Ocampo said. “Hindi ko rin ma-explain eh... yun nga swerte ako na nasa San Miguel team ako. Talagang blessed ako dahil nandito na ako, nakakasama pa ako sa mga championship.
“Kahit papaano wala naman akong injury na malala, kumbaga anytime pag binunot, ready naman tayo. Ayun, salamat sa Panginoon hindi Niya ako pinapabayaan,” he added.
De Ocampo, who turned 38 last March 11, has – for a while now – hardly needed to do any heavy-lifting anymore, playing only in the first two games of the Finals with less than six minutes of action in all against Magnolia.
And that’s thanks to a dominant starting center in June Mar Fajardo, who has hardly needed to take breathers with how the four-time reigning MVP has wreaked havoc down low.
But don’t think that De Ocampo is just a free-loader as he has had the initiative to provide leadership and his inputs to the young guys – while fellow veteran Reavis is still a vital cog in the Hotshots’ machine.
“Siguro yung comparison kasi, kahit sino naman walang magka-pareho, pero maganda kasi si Rafi nagagamit sa kabilang team tapos dito, nagchi-cheer ako,” De Ocampo said with a chuckle. “Hindi, siguro kasi dito, more of ano na ako eh, yung little things. Kinakausap ko yung mga player, siguro as a veteran parang yun na yung naging duty ko.
“Wala naman nagsasabi na gawin ko yun pero syempre gusto ko manalo rin. Parehas kaming blessed [Rafi] na pumapalag pa,” he added.
Increasing his title tally to double digits came at a time when teammate Lanete just ended his long wait for a championship.
“Syempre may kanya-kanya tayo ano eh, kanya-kanyang kapalaran. Katulad dito, minsan nakakapagod din yung tayo-upo sa bench,” De Ocampo said with a laugh. “Tsaka nakaka-kaba kaysa yung naglalaro ka sa loob. Pero yun talaga, thankful ako na napunta akong San Miguel at nakakapag-champion kami.”
But if you think that De Ocampo has had enough championships, think again. There’s one thing missing in his team achievements: a Grand Slam, which was denied from him when he was traded by San Mig Coffee before their hat-trick-clinching feat in the 2014 season, and again last year when the Beermen lost to Ginebra in the Governors’ Cup.
“Hopefully, this year, kung laging ganito yung performance ng team namin, siguro hindi imposible na makuha yung Grand Slam,” De Ocampo said. “Pero syempre hindi muna natin pwedeng isipin yun, yung second conference muna. Sa ngayon celebrate muna, kasi champion tayo.”
“Actually, ang goal ko sa sarili ko, pag napasama ako sa Grand Slam, balak ko na mag-retire,” he bared. “Pag naka-Grand Slam, siguro kung medyo hindi na nakikipag-cooperate yung katawan natin sa isip natin... pero kaya ko pa eh. Pero syempre, pag nakuha mo na yung Grand Slam, siguro baka mag-retire na ako… Pero syempre blessed ako na tumagal ako ng ganun.”