He is worthy of a call up to the Philippine basketball hall of fame. His legend will forever be remembered as a game-changer in the modern era of local hoops. He was a collegiate gem playing for a barnstorming squad in the early 2000s. A small school considered to be an unknown relative to more popular varsity teams in the NCAA or UAAP. His numerous PBA crowns and multiple stints in the Gilas Pilipinas program will forever be remembered.

Salute to the “pambansang siko”, “pambansang stretch 4”, Ranidel De Ocampo!

When he was playing for the St. Francis of Assissi Doves, a none UAAP or NCAA school, he led the school to multiple NCRAA and Intercollegiate titles. This school was also able to produce the likes of Yancy De Ocampo (Ranidel’s older brother who also retired from the PBA this year), Irvin Sotto (father of Kai Sotto), Al Vergara, and Frederick Canlas. This team boasts of a stratospheric frontline with Yancy standing 6’8, Sotto at 6’6, Canlas at 6’8, and Ranidel standing 6’5. If you were to pit that team against UAAP teams with imports, this St. Francis team had a good shot to pull the rug under them. This team also had a solid court general in Al Vergara. All of these players made their mark in the amateur and pro leagues and together made St. Francis arguably the best collegiate team in their era.

Philippine basketball’s prototype stretch 4 actually just learned the long-distance shot midway through his career. In the amateurs, he would regularly mix it up down low banging bodies with the best of them. I saw him flourish as a post-up player in a stratospheric frontline with the Air21 Express alternating down low with the likes of Homer Se, Arwin Santos, and KG Canaleta. He develops his 3 points shooting prowess with the TNT KaTropa franchise which proved invaluable in his services with the national team.

Ranidel will be missed. I do hope that he continues being active in basketball-related activities. He would be a good big man coach in my opinion. Enjoy post-playing life, Ranidel. Your body deserves a good break. Once you’re done taking a small breather, teach younger players the rudiments of blue-collar play, hard-working D, post scoring with a soft touch from the outside. The Philippine basketball youth will flourish more by learning from one of, if not, the very best power forward in the land of this era.

A Shortened PBA Season

The PBA is considering a protracted PBA season in reaction to the covid19 pandemic. I personally think that even without the pandemic, a shortened PBA season should be done anyway. I believe that for us to witness the very best quality of basketball, we need to consider recovery time for our players. This means a minimum of two months no-basketball should be given our professional athletes to allow their bodies to recover and regenerate.

Two conferences are enough to make a season: 1 All Filipino, 1 Reinforced. Since the All Filipino is the fan-favorite conference, make it a double round-robin affair with knockout playoffs before the final four while keeping the reinforced format as a single round sprint. Allowing only two conferences can guarantee 2 months of rest for the players before even thinking about getting back into shape. Teams need not worry about players getting terribly out of shape. In today’s digital age, we have the equipment to monitor weight and health. We also need to trust that our players will not go out of their way to deliberately pig out. Trust me that they know what it takes to do well in camp and the penalties of reporting to camp out of shape. They know when to start a ramping workout to make it just about right when camp begins.

This quarantine period may be a blessing in disguise at least for the pro league to consider their options to increase the level of play in the league. A short but quality-driven season will definitely bring the fans back to the stands even without a team named Ginebra on the playing card.

Post Lock Down

We are two weeks left to the end of the extended lockdown period here in Luzon and it seems like we are still unaware of where we are headed past April 30. Personally, I think we should gradually re-open the economy. Allow 50% of the workforce to start reporting for work in May, see the impact mid-month and then gradually lift it to 75% in June and full force in July. While doing so, ensure proper hygiene and social distance measures are reinforced and more importantly, enable more rapid testing facilities and increase the availability of health services as we try to normalize activities in the country. If we continue keeping everyone at home, we might be facing a bigger problem than covid19. Recession and hunger can possibly be a bigger killer than the aforementioned virus.

Let us hope and pray that a cure is finally discovered and further down the road (in the near future), a vaccine is made to ensure everyone gets immunity to it. Stay safe, everyone.

(The writer is a senior leader in the Business Process Outsourcing industry managing Philippine countryside operations)