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MANILA, Philippines – Tributes poured in for Ranidel de Ocampo after he announced his retirement from the PBA following an illustrious 15-season career.
The sweet-shooting forward was remembered by his teammates and opponents for being a consummate professional and a smooth operator on the hardcourt.
Jimmy Alapag said De Ocampo, whom he won 5 PBA titles with during their time at TNT and was teammates with for Gilas Pilipinas, revolutionized how the stretch forward position is played in the country.
“[N]ot many people know the type of leader you were, always being a great example to the team,” Alapag wrote on Instagram.
“[You were] always one of the first guys in the gym and last to leave. [You knew] when to keep things light with the jokes when we all needed them.”
Aside from the championships he won with TNT, De Ocampo also bagged individual awards, including a Best Player of the Conference honor and First Mythical Team selections from 2012 to 2014.
The 6-foot-6 stalwart also won two Finals Most Valuable Player plums.
“Always loved how you played the game, your courage and calmness, and your uncanny intelligence and skill for a big man,” retired PBA player Chris Tiu said in a mix of Filipino and English.
“But most of all, I admire you for your simplicity, humility, and being a comedian off the court,” Tiu added.
De Ocampo was just as successful in the international scene as he won two silver medals in the 2013 and 2015 FIBA Asia Championships and helped lead the national team to the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
“An honor to share the court with you! Thank you for the battles, the talks, and the memories! One of the most skilled players I’ve ever come across,” said Gabe Norwood, a former Gilas Pilipinas teammate.
Barangay Ginebra veteran Mark Caguioa, who has played in the PBA for 18 seasons, called De Ocampo the “best power forward” he has gone up against.
“Every time we played against TNT you would always give us a hard time. I hate you for that,” Caguioa wrote with a smiling emoticon.
“Congrats on a very successful career. Thank you for the hard battles we fought against each other and together for the national team.”
As he draws the curtains on his basketball career, De Ocampo said his focus now is his family.
“I can now spend more time with my family,” De Ocampo wrote. – Rappler.com