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Big shoes to fill for Yancy

Yancy de Ocampo stands nearly as tall as injured SMB center June Mar Fajardo but the 6-foot-9, 13-year veteran is finding it extremely difficult to replicate the contribution of the limping two-time MVP in the ongoing Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup Finals.

De Ocampo can still throw and connect those long bombs from rainbow territory as well as his patented hook shots and the corner jumpers though he is now considered in the twilight of his career.

One thing that he may not be used to, however, is play down the stretch when the game is on the line.

When the 6-10 Fajardo went down with a left knee injury, SMB mentor Leo Austria had no other choice but to rely on de Ocampo, who played 10 out of 11 games in the eliminations and three of six in San Miguel’s semifinal series against Rain or Shine.

The elder brother of Talk ’N Text mainstay Ranidel de Ocampo did well in Game 1 as he scored 18 points while adding seven rebounds and three assists in 37 minutes of action.

The team, though, lost the series opener, 100-91.

In Game 2, SMB had several chances of taking control of the game, particularly during the waning moments. The team failed to capitalize on these opportunities, like when de Ocampo muffed two free throws in the final moments with Alaska up by just a point, 80-81.

Again, de Ocampo’s effort of 13 points and 14 rebounds went down the drain as SMB lost to the Aces, 83-80, for a 0-2 deficit in their best-of-seven title showdown.

Ocampo, 35, refused to comment of the two missed free throws, and the overall performance of San Miguel as his focus is on helping the team win Game 3 tomorrow in Lucena City.

Prior to the finals against Alaska, the former stalwart of St. Francis of Assisi averaged just 2.90 points and 2.60 rebounds in the eliminations, and 1.33 points and 2 rebounds in the Final Four.

His playing minutes also skyrocketed from playing nearly just eight minutes per game until the semifinals, to a combined 68 minutes – 34 per game – in the first two games of the finals.