Former national team stalwart Ranidel de Ocampo, who retired from playing less than three months ago, is returning to TNT KaTropa, this time as one of its assistant coaches.
TNT KaTropa team manager Gabby Cui announced the hiring of De Ocampo, who played for the TNT franchise for nine years until 2017 and was part of its most glorious reigns in the PBA, winning a total of six championships.
“Coach Ranidel brings us a wealth of championship experience and basketball knowledge that will definitely help our team reach our aspirations for another championship,” Cui said, referring to the hard-nosed 6-foot-7 forward who won two Finals most valuable player trophies and was an All-Star nine times.De Ocampo spent the last two seasons with Meralco, an injury-plagued stint that had him coming to a decision to call it a career just after the coronavirus pandemic hit.
The hiring of De Ocampo also comes just a week after TNT KaTropa let go of the controversial Tab Baldwin, who was fined P75,000 and slapped with a three-game suspension by the PBA for comments that were deemed detrimental by the league. Baldwin said the PBA’s one-import policy was a mistake and accused league referees of favoring imports.
TNT shoring up its coaching lineup comes with upgrading its roster as the squad has injected more talent, youth and size in a bid for a first championship since the Commissioner’s Cup in 2015 and in an effort to stop the San Miguel Beer juggernaut in the Philippine Cup—a target most teams have coming into this suspended season.
The KaTropa landed Poy Erram in a complex deal involving Blackwater and NLEX, while sophomore guard Ray Parks was signed to a new deal.
Simon Enciso was also acquired in a trade with Alaska, while rookie Kib Montalbo shored up the backcourt rotation. TNT still has Jayson Castro, who is coming off one of his best seasons last year when the KaTropa reached the playoffs in all three conferences.
Guard Roger Pogoy said the team was looking forward to a more productive campaign with its reloaded roster.
“We were practicing very well going into the All-Filipino,” Pogoy said in an episode of the 2OT podcast.
“We were adjusting very well. Ray Parks came in only in the Governors’ Cup so we didn’t have much time with him last season.”
The Philippine Cup was suspended after just one game due to the coronavirus pandemic. INQ
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