Although import Ivan Johnson has dished off two monster games to help Talk ‘N Text secure a spot in the top two in the playoffs, one can’t count out the key contributions of local big man Ranidel de Ocampo this conference.
The 6-foot-6 Gilas Pilipinas mainstay has steadily provided the leadership for a Talk ‘N Text squad that is out to redeem itself following its 4-0 defeat to eventual Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer in the semifinals.
De Ocampo averaged 18.5 points and 5.5 points in Talk ‘N Text’s victories over San Miguel, 113-93, and Alaska, 101-93, as the Tropang Texters ended the eliminations with an 8-3 record.
The former St. Francis of Assissi knocked down 17 points, joining hands with Johnson in the team’s second-half scoring attack to turn a tight contest into a ghastly rout against the Beermen.
Four days later, De Ocampo finished two rebounds short of a double-double after pumping 20 points and grabbing eight rebounds to help Talk ‘N Text score an eight-point win over a tough Alaska side.
For his sterling effort, the 33-year-old De Ocampo earned his first Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week in the Commissioner’s Cup for the period of March 16-22.
The 11-year PBA veteran admitted that the team went through an adjustment period when Johnson came in as a surprise replacement for reigning Best Import Richard Howell last month.
But the weeks after that, De Ocampo said they were able to settle down as the mercurial Johnson began to understand his role.
“Yung team namin marami ring bago pero kahit paano, malaking tulong si Ivan kasi nagagawan namin ng paraan. And tingin ko, nakukuha na din namin,” he said.
Talk ‘N Text returns to action this Saturday when it begins its quarterfinal match against the no. 7 seed, which for now, remains a toss-up among four other teams at the bottom-half of the standings. (RD)
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