RANIDEL de Ocampo said the road to Talk 'N Text's ninth PBA championship didn't start at the beginning of the conference, but shortly after the team got swept by San Miguel in the Philippine Cup semifinals.
That embarrassing loss, de Ocampo said, pricked the pride of Talk 'N Text's veteran players and hastened the development for youngsters Kevin Alas and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, making the Texters a whole new team by the time the Commissioner's Cup came around.
“Sa tingin ko, medyo nakakuha kami ng aral sa last conference namin nung ma-sweep kami ng San Miguel. At kahit paano, natuto kami, lalo na mga rookies namin, saka mga bago sa team gaya ni Jay Wash (Washington), Kevin Alas at Matt (Ganuelas-Rosser),” said De Ocampo in retrospect.
“Malaking bagay na-experience namin na ma-sweep kami. Marami silang (rookies and new additions) natutunan kaya naging maganda ang resulta ngayon,” he added.
Talk 'N Text, though, could not have gone all the way without the heroics of de Ocampo, who capped a memorable title series with a career-high 34 points in the double-overtime 121-119 win in Game Seven.
Although Talk ‘N Text saw its once imposing 16-point lead obliterated by Rain or Shine behind Paul Lee and import Wayne Chism’s stellar plays, De Ocampo said there was never a time in the game that he doubted the Tropang Texters’ capability to win the title.
“Wala pa naman ang final buzzer eh, so siyempre, di pa naman tapos ang laban kaya ang isip mo positive pa rin,” he recalled.
“Ganun din naman sila (Elasto Painters). Di rin sila sumuko, tapos yung mga shoot namin ni Jayson (Castro), wala na kaming legs eh, braso na lang pinantitira namin. Buti na lang nasu-shoot,” added the 33-year-old Gilas Pilipinas mainstay.