Fit-again Tropang TNT forward Ranidel de Ocampo is non-committal as far as playing for Gilas Pilipinas is concerned, saying his possible tour of duty with the national team hinges on numerous factors.
“Sa Gilas naman, di ko pa iniisip yun, kasi depende din sa katawan ko saka depende din sa ilalaro ko, tapos depende din sa coach at sa desisyon nila dahil maraming players na magagaling eh,” De Ocampo told media men, just minutes after making his triumphant return in the Tropa’s 98-92 victory over Blackwater to open their title-retention bid in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on a high note.
De Ocampo is part of the original 17-man national pool named by Gilas coach Tab Baldwin last year.
Gilas is actually preparing for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament this July, with the Philippines earning the nod to host it.
The 6-foot-5 De Ocampo missed all but one of Tropang TNT’s Philippine Cup games due to a severe back problem he suffered while working out at the Moro Lorenzo gym inside the Ateneo campus last year.
But after months of strengthening and therapy, De Ocampo is confident he’ll be able to contribute more for the Tropa.
His 1st game back since suffering the back injury saw the pride of Tanza, Cavite fire 20 points, to go along with 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.
The many-time Gilas forward said he’s grateful for the support of management and the people who prayed for his fast recovery.
“Na-adjust ko na yung isip ko sa laro, pero nung mga unang practice ko, dun ako medyo naiilang at nagwo-worry kasi kailangan ko pala talagang maging confident para kapag naglaro, wala akong iniisip,” he said.
“Pero nagpapasalamat ako sa lahat ng nagdasal at sa lahat ng sumusuporta sa akin. Kumpiyansa naman ako sa therapy namin saka ng PT namin si Dexter (Aseron).”
De Ocampo, though, mentioned that he’s got a long way to go as far as returning to his old, deadly form because his back tightens a little bit from time to time.
“Minsan nagta-tight pa siya saka naninigas. Nagre-react lang siguro,” explained the 2-time PBA Finals MVP.
“Natural lang yun kasi medyo na-injured ako ng mabigat sa likod.” — By Richard Dy