Cliff Hodge key to Meralco’s signing of Chris Banchero
MANILA, Philippines—Meralco’s acquisition of star guard Chris Banchero was thanks in part to Bolts’ forward Cliff Hodge.
Bolts head coach Norman Black said it was Hodge who became the most integral part in acquiring Banchero from free agency as the two players are best friends and their partners, Justinruth Gascon and Beatrice Yao, are likewise close.
Banchero’s arrival was also of extreme importance for Meralco as it lost John Pinto, who signed with Ginebra in the early stages of the free agency.
“Players in the league have relationships and the best friend of Chris just happens to be Cliff Hodge so while there are rules against management communicating to players, there are no rules against players communicating with other players so we found out through Cliff that he was interested in joining us,” said Black.
Meralco signed Banchero on February 1, a day after his contract with the Fuel Masters expired.
“We just waited until Feb.1 to approach him and once Feb.1 got here we sat down with him and worked out an agreement,” said Black.
“Cliff and Chris, they see each other all the time, they’re friends, their wives are friends, and obviously his free agency was probably coming up in conversations. We figured just have to wait until it was okay for us to be able to communicate with him and once that time happened, we found out firsthand that he was interested in joining Meralco.”
While Pinto was a valued member of the team, Banchero was already an established name in the PBA and he was also Phoenix’s leading scorer in its first five games of the 2021-22 PBA Governors’ Cup.
Banchero averaged 18 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 2.4 steals—a mark tied for second in the league with former backcourt partner Matthew Wright.
HIs scoring is also third among locals behind Terrafirma’s Juami Tiongson and TNT’s Mikey Williams.