Mer­alco Bolts get bet­ter with vet­eran De Ocampo, say PBA head coaches

Business World - - SPORTS - Rey Joble

IN the same con­fer­ence last sea­son, Mer­alco was able to barge its way to the cham­pi­onship round, prov­ing it­self that it has come along as one of the teams to reckon with in the PBA.

This time, the Bolts are mak­ing an­other run and so­lid­i­fied their chances fur­ther with the ac­qui­si­tion of six-time cham­pion and two- time Fi­nals Most Valu­able Player Ranidel de Ocampo.

Coaches Alex Comp­ton of Alaska, Caloy Gar­cia of Rain or Shine and Yeng Guiao of NLEX be­lieve that the Bolts had put them­selves in a bet­ter po­si­tion for an­other cham­pi­onship as­pi­ra­tions fol­low­ing the ac­qui­si­tion of the 6-foot-7, for­mer Gilas Pilip­inas stand­out.

“Mer­alco. They’re tough and Allen Durham is a great im­port. They are al­ready a scary team and even scarier now with the ad­di­tion of Ranidel de Ocampo. Too bad for us we’re play­ing them in our next game. I think we have to be bet­ter than the last three games we played, if we want to com­pete against Mer­alco,” said Mr. Comp­ton.

“From the looks of it, I think Coach Nor­man (Black) has a great plan. They’re play­ing as a team, they’re mov­ing the ball, they’re de­fend­ing well.”

For Mr. Gar­cia, whose team has been in­volved in trades with Mer­alco in the past, he be­lieves this is the best trade ever made by the Bolts.

“I think they’re play­ing even bet­ter this year. What more with the in­clu­sion of Ranidel? I think coach Nor­man is right in adding De Ocampo be­cause that’s what the miss­ing piece of the squad, a stretch four player. Ranidel will bring in a lot of cham­pi­onship ex­pe­ri­ence, which will be cru­cial in mak­ing a cham­pi­onship run,” added Mr. Gar­cia.

For Mr. Guiao, the wis­dom of a vet­eran player like Mr. De Ocampo would be es­sen­tial to any team mak­ing a fi­nals push.

“I think the com­bi­na­tion of vet­eran play­ers and up and com­ing stars is the right for­mula. We’ve proven that when we ac­quired vet­eran play­ers like JR Quiña­han, Cyrus Baguio, Larry Fonacier and Alex Mal­lari. With Ranidel, I think Mer­alco has be­come a lot bet­ter. They have a solid im­port in (Allen) Durham, who has be­come the yard­stick among the im­ports. Baser Amer has been play­ing con­sis­tently and the rest of the team has been good de­fen­sively. I think they’re go­ing at the right di­rec­tion,” added Mr. Guiao.

At 7-2, the Bolts are just half a game be­hind joint lead­ers, NLEX and Barangay Gine­bra, in the team stand­ings and are in com­fort­able po­si­tion in se­cur­ing one of the top four berths that bear a twice-to­beat ad­van­tage. —

VET­ERAN Ranidel de Ocampo is re­united with his old coach Nor­man Black as the many-time all-star wel­comes a new chal­lenge in his ca­reer with the Mer­alco Bolts.

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