Durham proud of ‘game-changer’ Hugnatan, Amer
Allen Durham may have been the focal point of Meralco’s offense on Game 4 against Ginebra in the PBA Governors’ Cup finals, but the Bolts needed a couple more players to get the 85-83 victory.
First was Baser Amer, who made a crucial three-pointer, and then it was Reynel Hugnatan who dished the clutch assist to Durham that led to the game’s final score.
And Durham couldn’t help but admire Amer and Hugnatan for their efforts in bailing the Bolts out en route to tying the series at 2-2.
“Baser, I just told him to keep playing, keep playing, and keep shooting,” said Durham of Baser Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Amer had struggled in the two games prior to Game 4 as he went a combined 5-of-19, including a 0-of-6 performance in Game 3.
All that, however, became an afterthought when Amer knocked down a booming triple that gave Meralco an 83-81 lead with 1:18 remaining in the fourth.
“I had four guys on me and he [Amer] was wide open and I just had to trust in him and just passed him the ball and he knocked it down. They said Chris Ross was the Most Improved Player, but if I had a vote, I would have given it to Baser that’s for sure.”
“He made the biggest play of the game, he made that three and I’m proud of him.”
And if Baser made a bailout shot late in the game, Hugnatan practically made life easier for Durham for more than 30 minutes.
Hugnatan logged more than 31 minutes of play and in the time that he and Durham shared the floor, the Bolts’ import had the luxury of playing in a wide paint.
The 38-year-old Hugnatan was Meralco’s stretch 4 and he baited Ginebra’s opposing big men, namely Joe Devance and Japeth Aguilar, to guard him outside instead of providing help in the middle.
“It’s a lot easier to get to the rim and Ginebra’s a big team so now they have to pick their poison,” said Durham who finished with 28 points and 18 rebounds. “They would either help under the basket or we would stretch them out.”
Durham was left open underneath when Aguilar closed out on Hugnatan at the top of the key and that allowed the Meralco
veteran to pass to his teammate underneath for the layup with 47 seconds left in the game.
Hugnatan’s ploy of stretching the floor gave him 14 points, 12 of which came from deep.
“Papa Rey has been doing it for years and years and years, I don’t even know how many years he’s been doing it,” joked Durham. “He’s really helping us a lot and he’s a game-changer for us.”
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