Cliff Hodge return a shot in the arm for Meralco
Cliff Hodge reminded the Meralco Bolts what they had been missing in their first four games.
Hodge made his season debut on Wednesday and he returned at the best possible time with the Bolts on a three-game skid coming into the game.
“Nobody’s happier than me to see him (Hodge) back. I mentioned earlier about the lack of effort against TNT and we seemed to have a low energy level against TNT,” Meralco head coach Norman Black said.
“We all know that’s [what] Cliff is [all] about. He’s about energy and effort and probably just his presence really helped us a great deal tonight because he does give a lot of effort out there, particularly on the defensive end.”
The 29-year-old Hodge made immediate impact the moment he was fielded into the game at the 2:30 mark of the first quarter. He grabbed an offensive rebound just 36 seconds in that led to a basket by his teammate Bryan Faundo.
Hodge finished with eight points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field with six rebounds, three assists and a steal. Four of his boards were offensive rebounds.
It was an all-around effort from Hodge, doing a little bit of everything in just 19 minutes of play despite still not being 100 percent healthy yet.
“I’m pretty tired, but I’m happy that we got the win so that’s all that matters,” he said after helping Meralco get back on the winning track with a 105-76 rout of Kia.
“Yeah, I’m really out of shape. I haven’t played basketball in about three months and I’ve only practiced in like two days,” added Hodge, who went under the knife to remove bone spurs in his ankles. “I just need to get back in shape. Actually, my ankle still hurt so I’m just playing through that until it gets better.”
Hodge was supposed to be out for at least two more weeks, but with Meralco struggling he knew he would be of great help to his team especially with Ranidel de Ocampo still out with a calf injury.
“I know that we needed some wins so I said if I can go up and down [even if] I’m not 100 percent but I mean, I can go out there on defense. I just decided to come back and try and do whatever I can for my team.”
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