HE knew he was ready. He just didn’t know if he would last that long.
Yet Yancy de Ocampo came through when he was called upon as he led San Miguel Beer in the absence of June Mar Fajardo in their 88-80 overtime win over NLEX in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday night at the Astrodome.
Coming in averaging just 1.4 points and 1.7 boards in 5.3 minutes in his first seven games, the veteran big man played his longest game in a while, seeing action for 26 minutes that resulted in his best-scoring game in four seasons with 17 points on top of 12 boards as Fajardo got into foul trouble.
“Nung una, nanibago talaga ako kasi halos one year akong hindi nakalaro ng ganito dahil sa injury,” the 35-year-old De Ocampo admitted.
“Pero kahit naman hindi na-foul out si June Mar, ang mentality namin kailangan ready lang kami lagi para anytime na hugutin kami, hindi naman nakakahiya,” he was quick to add.
True enough, the 6-foot-9 slotman stood tall in the absence of the 6-foot-10 Fajardo as he proved reliable from the perimeter on offense, while holding his own against NLEX’s resident big man Asi Taulava on defense.
“Siguro na-swertehan lang na pumapasok yung long shots ko then nagkaroon din ako ng playing time,” he said. “Nung una, na-frustrate ako sa depensa kasi madali akong naiiskoran kaya pinilit ko talagang bumawi.”
De Ocampo also atoned for a turnover in regulation that led to Jonas Villanueva’s three-pointer that sent the game into overtime.
“Nagulat din ako kanina nung naagawan ako. Parang inagawan ako ng candy,” he said of Sean Anthony’s swipe. “Siyempre nasa akin yung blame kahit hindi nila sabihin. Buti na lang nagkaroon ng pagkakataong makabawi."
SMB coach Leo Austria always knew he could count on De Ocampo.
“Alam namin na time will come na si June Mar ay pangit ang laro o ga-graduate, so that’s why we have Yancy.”