WHEN you’ve been together for more than half a decade, it takes little time to regain cohesion.
TNT Katropa turned to its old reliables on Thursday night with Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, Kelly Williams, Larry Fonacier, and Ryan Reyes making up coach Nash Racelas’s finishing unit that broke down San Miguel Beer down the stretch in a 101-94 win in Game Five.
But Ranidel de Ocampo admitted it was one of the rare times he played with his fellow veterans – the Texters’ core since the three-peat all-Filipino title conquest from 2010 to 2012 – at crunch time this conference.
“Actually hindi nga namin napa-practice simula pa nung eliminations na magkakasama kami sa loob ng court mga beterano,” the veteran stretch forward admitted. “Lagi kaming may mix na mas bata.”
“Siguro kahit papaano, nanumbalik yung dati, nagamay namin yung bawat isang mga beterano,” he added.
While the Texters have drawn significant contribution from young guns Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, and Mo Tautuaa, among others, Racela turned to his veterans this time in finishing the job.
The young coach knows they won’t let him down.
“Our model is the San Antonio Spurs,” Racela said. “You review all the lineups in the PBA and we have the most number of I’d say veterans.”
The 35-year-old De Ocampo, one of three Texters who scored in twin digits along with Castro and Williams, also deflected credit to his fellow big men for holding the fort against June Mar Fajardo.
“Syempre bibigyan ko rin ng credit sila Kelly Williams, si Tautuaa, Frank Golla, Danny Seigle, Harvey Carey sa pag-depensa sa malaki ng kalaban, si June Mar,” De Ocampo said. “Tinatiyaga nila, nagtatrabaho sila ng mabuti.”
Now, the Texters’ hard work is starting to bear fruit.
“Hindi biro yung trabahong ginagawa namin na manalo sa San Miguel,” De Ocampo said. “Sobrang hirap nila talunin. Sila talaga yung pinakamalakas na team. Siguro may halo ring swerte dahil sa sipag.”