RANIDEL de Ocampo insisted he won’t get star-struck when Gilas Pilipinas takes on its international rivals in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in July at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Filipino dribblers are bracketed in Group B with France and New Zealand, two countries with a handful of NBA stars. While Evan Fournier and Rudy Gobert have already begged off, Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum, and Boris Diaw have left the door open of suiting up for the French national team in the Manila qualifiers.
If Gilas advances to the semifinals, the national stands to face the qualifiers from Group A which also has plenty of players suiting up in the premier hoops league in the world with Turkey having Ersan Ilyasova and Omer Asik, Canada featuring Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson, and Cory Joseph.
But De Ocampo said he is not looking forward to face a specific international star.
“Wala naman,” the star stretch-4 said after practice on Saturday morning. “Hindi namin iniisip yun.”
“Pare-pareho lang naman na tao yan, na players,” he added.
What De Ocampo is more concerned of is Gilas’ own development with the qualifiers less than two months away. The national team only returned to practice last Wednesday.
“Sa ngayon medyo hindi pa ganun kapulido ang ginagawa namin,” said the Tropang TNT star, who took part in offensive set simulations on the third day since the national team resumed its training.
“Pero kahit papaano naman, may nangyayari naman na maganda,” he added. “Kahit papaano, nag-i-improve naman ‘yung mga ginagawa namin.”