Black thrilled to have a full-strength Meralco side as RDO returns from layoff
Norman Black says 'floor spacer' Ranidel de Ocampo's arrival augurs well for import Arinze Onuaku, who plays exclusively inside for Meralco. Jerome Ascano

NORMAN Black can't be any more elated with how things are coming together for Meralco. 

With Ranidel de Ocampo suiting up for the first time this season, the seasoned mentor finally had the luxury of rolling out a full-strength squad in the Bolts' 93-82 win over Ginebra. 

"I'm happy he's back. We've missed him for almost two conferences now, so I think he'll be a big help as far as experience goes, and of course talent," he said of de Ocampo. 

Black managed De Ocampo's minutes in his first game back from an Achilles injury, fielding him for just 21 minutes. The former Gilas mainstay wound up with five points, three rebounds, and three assists. 

"He's been back for eight practices, but obviously only four of those were involved on five-on-five scrimmages. He's still a little bit rusty, but what he does is he gives us a threat," he said.

"Every time he's on the floor, the other team has to respect the fact that he can make shots from inside and out. And a lot of times, we need that floor spacing to give Arinze [Onuaku] a little bit of room to maneuver." 

De Ocampo's return also bode well for Meralco, which recently welcomed back Garvo Lanete (hand) and Cliff Hodge (knee) from their respective illnesses. 

"I'm particularly happy that Ranidel and Garvo are back because they're floor spacers," said Black. "Our import is strictly inside, strictly five-feet and in, so we need to free up the floor as much as possible for him. And guys like Garvo and Ranidel are really good outside shooters so it's nice to have them back."

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