Hugnatan steps up big in De Ocampo’s absence
Ranidel de Ocampo went down with a calf injury in the first four minutes of Game 3 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals and did not return.
But with the way backup forward Reynel Hugnatan filled in the gap, it was as if de Ocampo never left.
Hugnatan exploded for 22 points, hitting seven triples in close to 39 minutes of play—numbers that de Ocampo is capable of putting up.
“The game becomes a lot easier when you can make shots. Today we did a much better job at making our perimeter shots and a lot of credit goes to Reynel Hugnatan, who stepped up and made a lot of threes for us today,” said Meralco head coach Norman Black.
The 38-year-old Hugnatan hadn’t been playing as much since the arrival of de Ocampo following a three-team trade this conference.
In fact, he was only averaging 6.5 minutes in Games 1 and 2 of the finals. But with de Ocampo out, Hugnatan had to play extended minutes and he made the most out of it.
“Reynel is basically subbing in for AD so his playing time has been limited, not just in this series but also in the series before this. But with Ranidel going out, obviously he has to step up and take that position,” Black said.
“He’s been doing that for me for the last three years so he’s been accustomed to doing that already.”
Hugnatan is no stranger to showing up in big games, but his latest performance still managed to surprise him.
“Of course I was surprised. And I thank coach Norman for giving me playing time. I know Ranidel is out so I just stepped up and luckily, my shooting was there,” said Hugnatan, who only scored two points combined in the first two games and was 0-of-2 from the three-point area heading into the game.
Black said de Ocampo could miss the rest of the series, giving Hugnatan another opportunity to shine again starting in Game 4 two nights from now.
“We’ll see on Friday,” Hugnatan said.