With Jayson Castro out, Ranidel De Ocampo turns into playmaker for Tropang TNT
Ranidel de Ocampo had a team-best seven assists in Jayson Castro's absence. Jerome Ascano

WITHOUT admitting it was a conscious effort, Ranidel de Ocampo turned into a playmaker for Tropang TNT on Sunday with Jayson Castro sitting out the team’s 85-80 victory over NLEX in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Jai Reyes facilitated the offense without the injured star point guard, but De Ocampo also did his share and ended up dishing out a team-best seven of his team’s 20 assists.

But the versatile forward, who completed a solid stat line of nine points, six rebounds, and one steal in 29 minutes, played down his exploits.

“Yun (pag-assist) naman din mga normal kong ginagawa dati. Tinuloy lang, ” De Ocampo insisted. “Tapos naco-convert din kasi yung mga pasa ko. Lagi naman din ako ganun, hindi lang naco-convert.”

[See Tropang TNT endures Castro, Fonacier absence. holds off NLEX]

Rosser had four assists, while Reyes chipped in two dimes.

De Ocampo still conceded life was difficult without Castro, who was out with an Achilles injury.

“Mahirap talaga pag wala si Jayson. Iba pag nandyan si Jayson,” the Gilas Pilipinas mainstay said. “Sana makabalik agad siya.”

With their star point guard not around to run the offense, the Texters, as a unit, turned to their defense instead to overcome the Road Warriors’ late rally.

“Nag-focus kami sa depensa, kaya kita mo yung score, mababa,” De Ocampo said. “Kahit papaano, nag-rely kami sa depensa, lalo na nung humahabol sila.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos