One of the best “stretch fours” in the Philippine Basketball Association has called it a career after Ranidel de Ocampo announced his retirement from pro basketball on Monday.
After an illustrious 16-year career in Asia’s first play-for-pay league, De Ocampo, 38, who played for the FedEx/Air21, TNT and Meralco franchises, said he is retiring, citing that now is the time to take on new challenges in his life and spend time with his family after giving his all for the sport he started playing when he was 14 years old.
He made the announcement over the 2OT podcast and later on Twitter.
While the writing was on the wall for the imminent exit of the PBA champion and many-time national player as he has been hobbled by injuries of late, still the decision came as a surprise to many.
In the lead-up, not much buzz surrounded a possible RDO retirement, if at all.
We heard of Sonny Thoss (Alaska), Cyrus Baguio and Asi Taulava (NLEX), Peter June Simon (Magnolia) and, possibly, Harvey Carey (TNT) retiring this season, but not RDO, or so we thought.
He followed older Yancy to the sunset after announcing his retirement after last season.
In retiring, the former Saint Francis of Assisi College System standout said he has nothing left to prove and achieve as a player in basketball which he credited as well for honing him to be the person he is now.
And it is really hard to argue with that assertion because RDO did and accomplished a lot as a player.
After college, he was selected fourth overall in the 2004 rookie draft by FedEx where he steadily built a name for himself in the PBA.
He then moved to TNT after five years with FedEx/Air21.
It was with the KaTropa where he built his legacy in the PBA, establishing himself as one of the best stretch fours in the league as he combined solid post-up and inside play with clutch outside sniping which proved to be hard to handle for opponents. He was also a tough defender, making him a bona-fide two-way player.
He was consequently rewarded for it, winning six titles in the PBA, earning two finals most valuable player awards and the PBA best player of the conference award in the 2014 Governors’ Cup, and getting the nod for nine PBA All-Star selections, among others.
RDO was also a noted member of the national team since being called up to play for flag and country here and there beginning 2003.
He was a staple in the frontline of recent Gilas Pilipinas iterations, helping the team win silver in the 2013 and 2015 FIBA Asia Championship and was part of the groundbreaking team that played and made waves in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
Later in his career he was traded to the Meralco Bolts and while he played limited minutes as injuries, and in a way Father Time, started to take their toll, still the team turned to him for veteran leadership and, at times, clutch plays in end games which he delivered in most of the time.
In reading his post on Twitter about his retirement, one could sense a player who is happy with his decision and ready to move on to what is next for him in life.
And I do not know about you, but if you are to exit a career you spent a large chunk of your life in, that is the best way to go out, no regrets and appreciated by peers and fans alike as attested by the many tributes dedicated to him when news broke out.
You did well, RDO. Now enjoy retirement! Thanks!
Michael Angelo S. Murillo has been a columnist since 2003. He is a BusinessWorld reporter covering the Sports beat.