MANILA, Philippines - Ranidel de Ocampo chose the best time to play his best game in a Bolts uniform as he helped Meralco stave off the Blackwater Elite in a do-or-die quarterfinals game.
RDO finished with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists but it was his stellar defense against Blackwater import Henry Walker that paved the way for Meralco to prevent another upset like it suffered last Tuesday.
The eighth seed Elite were on their way to stunning the number one Bolts again as they took a 52-40 halftime lead courtesy of Henry Walker’s 27 first half points.
“Actually, noong halftime, ninenerbyos ako, kinakabahan talaga ako kasi ang daming pumapasok sa isip ko na baka kung kailan nasa Meralco na ako, matatalo pa. Tapos 12 ‘yung lamang, malaki. Iniisip ko kung paano kami makakabalik,” said de Ocampo. (I was nervous during halftime. A lot of things were going through my head. I just arrived here in Meralco and we might lose. We were down 12 and that was big. I was thinking of how we can come back.)
The second half was a different story for the Bolts, thanks to how de Ocampo hounded the former NBA player. De Ocampo kept Walker scoreless in the first 11 minutes of the third quarter before limiting him to just two points in the final period.
Although Walker still dropped a game-high 34 points, his subpar display in the second half coupled with the excellent fourth-quarter performances from Baser Amer, Garvo Lanete and Jared Dillinger kept Meralco in the front seat.
“I have to give Ranidel de Ocampo a lot of credit for what he did defensively in the second half. I know he did not stop Walker but he certainly slowed him down a lot and it gave us the opportunity not to have to double team him every time down the court,” said Meralco coach Norman Black.
De Ocampo admitted it feels different to enter the semis, a feat he has done countless times with the TNT KaTropa, with a new squad.
“Iba ‘yung pakiramdam na pumasok ang Meralco sa semis na nandito na ako, nakita ko kung gaano kasaya sa dugout. Sa sobrang saya, naging masaya rin talaga ako,” said De Ocampo, who shared he took a video of their celebration as remembrance. (It feels different that Meralco entered the semis now that I am here. I saw how joyful they were in the dugout and their happiness also made me happy)
The Bolts will face the Star Hotshots on Sunday in Binan, Laguna. – 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.