A week after he formally retired from basketball, Ranidel De Ocampo sat down and reminisced the moments that will forever define his exemplary playing career.
While people will remember RDO more during his 15-year stint in the PBA and later, his time with Gilas Pilipinas, the 38-year-old forward looked back farther down the road and took a quick glance where it all began.
It was a career after all, which had its roots when Ranidel was just a gangling 14-year-old teener, a time which he said, “I started playing serious basketball.”
Asked to list the five major highlights of his career, it didn’t come as a surprise when De Ocampo ranked on top a historic win where his name will forever be associated.
His PBA moments? There were aplenty, but only mentioned at least two that really left a lasting impression on him.
Below are the Top 5 moments of RDO’s brilliant career, ranked according to ascending order.
5. High school championships with Saint Francis of Assisi College
“Siyempre yung first championship mo at tsaka yung mga sumunod doon,” recalled De Ocampo, who had no other than Phoenix mentor Louie Alas as coach in his secondary years along with brother Yancy when the Saint Francis of Assisi College junior Doves won three NCRAA (National Capital Region Athletic Association) titles in a row.
There was one championship that stood out for him though, but couldn’t remember what exactly the tournament was.
“Nag-champion kami. Malakas na team yung kalaban namin, mabigat na team,” he said of the mighty San Beda Red Cubs, known for their excellent basketball program under the tutelage of fabled coach Edmundo ‘Ato’ Badolato.
The victory was made more momentous when De Ocampo executed a pair of dunks against the Red Cubs
”Naka-dalawang dunk ako kaya sobrang saya ko,” said De Ocampo with a smile of a child who received his favorite Christmas gift.
“Yung isa put back dunk pa.”
4. Bacolod University Games
While anchoring the Doves’ championship run in the NCRAA during his collegiate years was also truly memorable for De Ocampo – he was a four-time NCRAA MVP – his first ever stint in the University Games ranked no. 4 in his career list.
Again dunking against opponents from leagues such as the UAAP and NCAA made the stint special for RDO, not to mention the trail of dominance left behind by the Doves in the tournament, which they won four straight times.
“Naglaro kami sa University Games, naka-labing isang dunk ako,” De Ocampo said with a hearty laugh. “Kaya hindi ko yan makakalimutan.”
3. Philippine Basketball League stint
Like any other players, De Ocampo would take his act to the next level after a successful collegiate career, suiting up for Montana Pawnshop in the Philippine Basketball League (the predecessor of the PBA D-league).
“No. 3 ko nung maglaro na ako sa PBL. Naging top rookie ako for Montana (Pawnshop),” said De Ocampo, who had college rival and close friend Gary David as among his teammates with the Jewelers.
He was PBL top rookie in 2002.
Unfortunately, RDO was no longer around when Montana finally won its first-ever crown during the 2005 Open Championship behind a team powered by Jondan Salvador, Al Vergara, and former PBA coach Alex Comptom.
2. First-ever PBA championship
The first is always the sweetest as they say.
“First championship ko sa PBA with Talk N’ Text,” said De Ocampo without batting an eyelash of the 2008-09 Philippine Cup crown which the Texters won in a grueling seven-game series against the Alaska Aces.
“Ka-trade ko lang noon,” RDO added after TnT acquired him in a trade with FedEx for Don Allado.
He would win five more championships with the Texters after that, including the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup where they beat Rain or Shine in a classic Game 7 that went into double-overtime.
RDO was named PBA Press Corps Finals MVP after finishing with a career-high 34 points as he beat out fellow teammate Jayson Castro for the top honor.
“History yun, double overtime tapos Game 7,” he said about one of the fiercely-fought do-or-die championship games in the history of the PBA. “Sobrang dikit ng laban na yun."
De Ocampo went 6-of-9 from three-point range during the game including a pair of pressure-packed treys in the second overtime, which gave him the nod as Finals MVP.
“Deserving din naman si pareng Jason (Finals MVP). Hindi naman big deal sa amin yun,” he said.
He added, ‘yun ang huling championship ko.”
And the same goes true for Talk ‘N Text, which traded him two years later to Meralco.
1. Gilas Pilipinas’ dramatic semifinals win over nemesis South Korea in FIBA-Asia Championship
“No. 1 ko siyempre yung lumaban tayo for Gilas Pilipinas, nanalo tayo against South Korea,” said the Tanza, Cavite native of the best moment of his basketball career.
De Ocampo led a brave stand by the Filipinos after being orphaned by a hurting Marcus Douthit in that memorable semifinals game against the deadly-shooting Sokors held before a loud, roaring jampacked crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.
RDO buried a back-breaking three-pointer inside the 1:33 mark to give the national team an 81-78 cushion, never looking back again to score the vengeful win against its long-time Asian nemesis.
“At siyempre nakabalik tayo sa World Cup,” added De Ocampo as the Philippines booked a return trip to the FIBA World Cup (formerly World Basketball Championship) following a 36-year absence.
The impact of the win was so striking that De Ocampo along with bosom friend Marc Pingris cried unabashedly before members of the media during the post-game press conference that followed.
Just how memorable the moment was for De Ocampo? He made sure to get the most precious souvenir out of that game.
“Pagtapos ng game, kinuha ko yung bola sa MoA Arena,” he said of the treasured basketball which he now has as part of his memorabilia.
has in his collection.