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MANILA, Philippines – Injuries have slowed down Cliff Hodge, but they hardly stop him from playing.
The veteran forward powered through a sprained ankle and suited for Meralco in a sudden death quarterfinal duel against Phoenix in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday, January 21.
A game-time decision, Hodge finished with 15 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks in nearly 38 minutes of action, although the Bolts ultimately got the boot as the Fuel Masters escaped with an 88-84 victory.
“Cliff has always been the cornerstone, the backbone of our defense. Nobody epitomizes that,” said Meralco head coach Luigi Trillo.
“He could not walk on it two days ago. We were saying we’ll see if he’ll play, that we’ll feel him out. He played through it.”
Although one of the oldest in the team at 35 years old, Hodge has been tough as nails.
In fact, out of the 104 matches the Bolts played over the last six conferences, Hodge sat out just three games.
He was not going to miss another one with their campaign on the line even after spraining his ankle in their 116-109 triple-overtime win over the twice-to-beat Fuel Masters last Wednesday that allowed Meralco to stay alive.
The Bolts almost pulled it off on Sunday, with Hodge hitting big shots in their fourth-quarter comeback before Phoenix held its nerve to advance to the semifinals.
“I’m proud of him. He played on one leg,” said Trillo.
Trillo plans to give Hodge a well-deserved rest before Meralco plunges back to action for the Philippine Cup in March. – Rappler.com