Ranidel de Ocampo considers Gilas Pilipinas’ second-place finish in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship as his crowning achievement as a player.
On that fateful day in August 2013, Gilas Pilipinas was able to book a ticket to the 2014 FIBA World Cup, its first appearance since 1978, at the expense of longtime tormentor South Korea.
“I would rate that number one more than the World Cup. When we won, I saw and felt that we had given the Philippines honor. It was an eerie feeling, since our countrymen saw the win first hand,” De Ocampo said on TV5’s Sports Page on Monday.
For De Ocampo, who hit some big shots that put Gilas ahead, the huge crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena made him feel something that he only thought happened in movies.
“I still get goosebumps. When I stood in a corner, I lost balance in my hearing because of the roar of the crowd, especially when Gabe [Norwood] made the last stop. I lost my balance, then everything felt like slow mo,” he described. “I never knew it could happen like in a movie. I could not hear anything… they were loud.”
Everybody was overcome with emotions after the win, with De Ocampo and Marc Pingris sobbing in the post-game press conference along with the journalists who covered the historic game.
If he considered the 2013 silver-medal finish as his greatest, he believed that the ensuing 2015 FIBA Asia Championship finals his biggest regret.
“I admit, our lineup was not as strong as the previous [Gilas team], but if we had, we would have won against China in the Finals. We may have played in the 2016 [Rio] Olympics. That’s when I can finally be called an Olympian. Wouldn’t be complete if you were one like Sen. [Robert] Jaworski and Sen. [Freddie] Webb,” lamented de Ocampo.
During the Philippines’ thrashing of Kuwait in a Group B round robin affair, he and Abdulaziz Alhamidi had a run-in in the latter part of the game. The two exchanged elbows, but the Kuwaiti was the one ejected for confronting the referee.
“Terrence [Romeo] was already complaining, ‘Kuya, #12 is throwing elbows!’ I said, ‘Let it go, let’s focus on the next game,” said de Ocampo.
When Alhamidi gave him a sharp elbow, he decided to take revenge.
“We only had one minute, I had no more time to fight back. I actually hit him two times. The first one was an elbow to the face during the rebound, and nobody saw that!” de Ocampo quipped. “The second time was when I whacked him in the face while he was looking for the guy who nailed him earlier. That’s when he bled and complained to the referee.”
Luckily, after the tournament, cooler heads prevailed, and it was De Ocampo who first made amends over breakfast.
In his 15-year career, De Ocampo tallied numerous accomplishments, which includes six PBA championships, two PBA Finals MVPs, and a Best Player of the Conference award