Cases for PBA’s 50 Greatest: Does RDO have a shot?

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Ranidel de Ocampo has always been underrated.

The attention was never solely on him, ever. In his early playing days at FedEx/Air 21, he played alongside the likes of Renren Ritualo, Nino Canaleta, Arwind Santos, Gary David and his brother Yancy. When he was traded to Talk N’ Text, he was again paired with household names in Jimmy Alapag, Kelly Williams and Jayson Castro.

He never craved the spotlight. But don’t mistake that seemingly introverted demeanor and humility for lack of skill and intensity.

In fact, any PBA team would have loved to build around De Ocampo in his prime. He was extremely talented and versatile. On offense, he’s basically a Filipino version of Dirk Nowitzki – a deadly scorer from the perimeter, a shifty operator from the post, and a lowkey explosive player who could take opponents off-guard when he blows by them off the dribble. On defense, he’s capable of guarding opposing fours and fives while being agile and smart enough to handle assignments against guards and wings.

He’s a career 35.7 percent three-point shooter. His peak year came in 2006-07 with Air21, where he tallied 15.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists. But through the years, his all-around numbers never really veered far from his career-highs, and he carried his excellent production over at TNT, where he won all his six championships.

Of course, the do-it-all guy from Tanza, Cavite was also instrumental in Gilas Pilipinas’ magical 2013 run in the FIBA Asia Championship, where his shining moment came after hitting a clutch trey to spark a late PH run against Korea. We all know the ending to that story, of course: they ended up booking that ticket to the World Cup after that win.

His resume’s pretty stacked; aside from his six rings, he’s also a nine-time PBA All-Star. He made the PBA Mythical First Team three times and won the Best Player of the Conference Award for his stellar play in the 2014 Governors’ Cup.

De Ocampo also bagged two Finals MVP plums; he received the first one at the latter end of TNT’s three-straight All-Filipino Cup championship campaigns in 2013, while he took home the other one in the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup, where he went off for 24 points and six rebounds and shot 40 percent from downtown in seven games to edge Rain or Shine for the title.

And beyond all the trophies and medals, RDO showed multiple times that he could step up to be the man when needed, and he did this in ways that only a bonafide star could.

Putting him in the Greatest 50 list would probably stir criticism seeing that there were a lot more legends snubbed from the original list of 40. But a quick look at his legacy, talent and body of work suggests that he’s up there among the best to have donned a PBA jersey.

There’s a big chance that he misses the cut, but you can’t possibly say with a straight face that Ranidel does not deserve consideration at all. Here’s to hoping that RDO finally gets the props that’s been due to him for most of his career – in whatever way possible.