How to star without the flash like RDO

I’m trying to think back to how it felt when Ranidel De Ocampo had been traded from Talk ‘N Text (through Phoenix) to the Meralco Bolts.

He was obviously a very good player, but he was already on the declining side of 30. Still, the Bolts didn’t give up too much in the 8th pick of a pretty shallow draft which turned out to be Sidney Onwubere.

It was a good value deal. De Ocampo brought in immediate help for a team that needed big bodies who could stretch the floor, even if it meant giving up an instant injection of youth.

It wasn’t a great game-changing deal that would eventually boost the Bolts to win championships. But there was nothing to complain about getting RDO on the team because his reliable presence made the team better.

That’s how it seems to have been throughout RDO’s career, hasn’t it?

Ranidel doesn’t radiate that superstar aura. He’s a large human being who sported a cool beard late in his career, but I doubt I would have pegged him as a PBA star if I had no idea who he was.

He played alongside teammates with flashy monikers like “The Blur”, “Machine Gun Kelly”, “Mighty Mouse”, or “Rain Man” among others. Even as he starred side by side with these players over the years, Ranidel only ended up with a generic nickname like “RDO” and a moniker that has mixed reactions in “Hodor”.

RDO didn’t have a flashy nickname because he just wasn’t a flashy player.

He has had some big-time dunks (Hi, June Mar. Hi, Beau.), but was never regarded as premier high-flyer. RDO is known as the prototypical stretch-four who can knock down threes, but his jump-shot is not exactly picture-perfect. You don’t expect to teach the young guns of this generation to have a slight hitch at the peak of their ascension on their shots like Ranidel.

But it worked and it was ever so reliable.

His highlight reels won’t put you on the edge of your quarantined seats. He doesn’t dazzle you with silky smooth ball-handling or fancy celebrations. Aside from a primal scream here and there, most footage of RDO celebrating plays are of him jogging back to get on defense.

Still, it all worked out.

It’s no coincidence that six of all seven Talk ‘N Text PBA titles were won while RDO was with the team. He never won an MVP award and was named Best Player of the Conference only once, but he made his presence felt when it mattered most by winning the Finals MVP award twice.

Fans will quickly point to Jimmy Alapag’s shot against Korea at the FIBA Asia Cup 2013 Semi-Finals. However, Ranidel also provided big-time shots earlier game to help Gilas make it back to the World Cup.

There won’t be any more of those moments in the future after RDO announced his retirement after 16 years on the 2OT podcast on Tuesday. He was never the flashiest star on the court providing highlight plays, but he always made it work.

RDO has wrapped up a slam dunk – not a rim-rattling jam, but just enough to show he stuffed it in – of a career and now he’s quietly jogging back out into the sunset towards his post-playing days.

That is enough of a celebration for Ranidel.