Bolts thwart Texters, book first finals slot
A SEASON that started in disappointment has turned out to be the best yet for the Meralco Bolts.
Moving one step closer to a first PBA championship for the franchise that joined the league six years ago, the Bolts had one of their most trusted, most loyal players at the forefront of their charge.
Cliff Hodge, who spent all of his PBA career with the Bolts, couldn’t have picked a better time to deliver the performance of his life as he powered Meralco to a 94-88 victory over TNT KaTropa Monday night, completing an amazing 3-1 series win in the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Hodge exploded for a career-best 32 points, including a triple with 49 seconds remaining that gave the Bolts the cushion they needed to hold off the Texters, who saw Jason Castro get ejected for a second flagrant foul in the fourth period.
“He was just unbelievable,” said coach Norman Black of Hodge, who shot 12 of 19 including three triples. “This performance shows you how much he’s grown as a player. Hopefully, he gets some recognition for that.”
The Bolts had an answer for each and every Texters run late in the game with Hodge coming up with the biggest shot of the game just moments after Ranidel de Ocampo buried a triple to cut the lead to 86-89.
Meralco started the season with a disappointing doormat finish in the Philippine Cup, following Black’s decision to rebuild the roster.
“I cannot be more proud of my players tonight for the work they put in,” said Black. “I’m really happy for the team and the players for showing up every day with the right attitude and embracing the game plan and strategy and going out and executing.”
Meanwhile, Barangay Ginebra forward Japeth Aguilar summed up what the Gin Kings must do to overcome San Miguel and reach the finals for the first time in three years.
“For us to win, we have to play the best game of our lives—all of us, from the starting five all the way to the bench,” Aguilar said.
The Gin Kings, reeling from a 101-72 blowout loss in Game 3 Sunday night, and the Beermen, riding high on that impressive victory, clash one last time today as the sister teams close another chapter of what had been an epic series, also at the Big Dome.
MERALCO 94—Hodge 32, Durham 19, Hugnatan 16, Newsome 15, Nabong 4, Alapag 3, Amer 2, Faundo 2, Uyloan 1.
TNT KATROPA 88—Castro 25, De Ocampo 15, Ammons 10, Rosario 10, Tautuaa 8, Fonacier 6, Williams 6, Madanly 5, Reyes 3, Rosales 0, Guevarra 0.
Quarters: 18-23, 40-44, 64-61, 94-88
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.