MANILA, Philippines – Even after more than two years since retiring from national team duties, Ranidel de Ocampo admits he misses playing for Gilas Pilipinas.
"Oo, nami-miss din siyempre (Of course, I miss playing for the national team)," the 37-year-old forward said. (READ: SCENARIOS: How Gilas can qualify for FIBA World Cup)
But de Ocampo was quick to enumerate the reasons he decided to hang up his spurs from international basketball, particularly to extend his playing years in the PBA, where he now plays for Meralco.
"[N]oong nakita kong may mga player na, kaya nag-decide ako na magpahinga na rin para makapaglaro pa ako nang matagal sa PBA para sa pamilya ko rin," he said.
(When I saw that there were new players ready to take my spot, I decided that I should rest so that I can prolong my career in the PBA and provide for my family.)
"Tutal nakapagsilbi na rin ako sa bansa, nakapagbigay ng karangalan – kami kami nila (Marc) Pingris – so proud na ako doon."
(I've already served and gave honor to the country – us players like Marc Pingris – so I'm already proud of what we've achieved.)
A member of the Philippine squad that reached the World Cup in 2014, De Ocampo announced his Gilas retirement after the national team failed in its bid to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
"At the same time, medyo nagbubunga din sa amin, katulad nila Ping na kahit na papaano, nahihirapan na din kami maka-recover kagaya noong natagalan kami sa mga injuries namin," de Ocampo continued.
(At that time, like Ping, we were taking a longer time recovering from our injuries.)
"Maigi na 'yung ganito, kumbaga nakita namin 'yung mga bata. Sila Troy (Rosario), sila Japeth (Aguilar), sila naman."
(It's better this way because there are younger players like Troy and Japeth. It's their time now.)
De Ocampo will be rooting for the national team as it makes its final push for a World Cup spot in the Asian Qualifiers, and he believes the squad has what it takes to duplicate what his Gilas batch achieved in 2014.
"Malakas 'yung lineup ngayon ng national team. Mas malakas pa siya kumpara sa mga naging lineup dati," he said. (READ: Thirdy, Barroca in for Gilas lineup vs Qatar)
(The national team's current lineup is strong. It's even stronger from the lineups in the past.)
The Philippines faces Qatar in Doha on Thursday, February 21 (Friday, February 22, Philippine time) before flying to Astana to meet Kazakhstan on Sunday, February 24, in the sixth and final window of the qualifiers. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.