Ranidel de Ocampo: 'Heart carried us'
By Alder Almo Updated Wednesday August 14, 2013 - 1:21pm

The top three teams (from left) Gilas Pilipinas (silver), Iran (gold) and South Korea (bronze) during the FIBA Asia Championship awarding ceremonies. courtesy of FIBA Asia

MANILA, Philippines - It was a once-in-a-generation moment for the Filipinos who have witnessed history being re-written by the now legendary Gilas Pilipinas.

And the glow of that silver medal shining like gold has captured the imaginations of millions of basketball-crazy Filipinos.

Yes, Gilas Pilipinas is going to Spain. The Philippines is back in the World Basketball Championship after three-and-half decades of agonizingly waiting for this proud moment.

But for Ranidel de Ocampo and the rest of Gilas Pilipinas, the silver medal finish is not yet the full realization of the dream.

It's only the beginning.

"Kung silver tayo, lumalabas na tayo ang second best team in Asia," De Ocampo said. "Sana sa susunod makukuha na natin yung gold."

He may be an undersized forward by international standards but De Ocampo's heart and the rest of the squad were never outsized.

"Puso talaga ang nagdala [sa atin] dito," revealed De Ocampo, who was nursing an MCL injury throughout the tournament. 

With 90 million of hearts beating as one, they did the unthinkable - beating the feared South Korea, who's been tormenting the country in Asian basketball for almost two decades now.

And they did it without Marcus Douthit three-fourths of the way.

Never mind if they fell short in the finals because what mattered most for the basketball-crazy Filipinos right now is that semifinal game - the first step of reclaiming the lost glory.

The shorter Philippine squad never ran short of heroes in that semifinal game.

There was the 6-foot-4 Marc Pingris, who skied high for rebounds and floaters that kept the Koreans bewildered.  Jayson Castro outran them in the speed of a bullet train. Japeth Aguilar dunked on them with authority. De Ocampo and Jimmy Alapag pierced through their hearts the way Cho Sung-min and Lee Sang-min broke Filipinos' hearts in the past.

"Para sa akin, itong team na ito ang may pinakamalaking puso. Lahat ng puso ng mga Pilipino nagsama-sama at talagang nabigyan nila kami ng lakas at saka naniwala sila at sumuporta at hindi sila bumitaw," De Ocampo said after losing to Hamed Hadadi and Iran on Sunday night.

"Hindi nila kami iniwan."

And now that they are going to Spain, the more they need the 90 million hearts and millions more around the world to beat louder as one. 

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Saturday, August 10, 2013 @ MOA Arena
5:45 PM - Semifinal Round
Iran vs Chinese Taipei
8:00 PM - Semifinal Round
Philippines vs Korea