PBA Philippine Cup

Sore body, aching joints ‘all worth it’ for 1st-time champion Cliff Hodge

Delfin Dioquino

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Sore body, aching joints ‘all worth it’ for 1st-time champion Cliff Hodge

CHALLENGED. Cliff Hodge in action for the Meralco Bolts in the 2024 PBA Philippine Cup.

PBA Images

All the pain and injuries Cliff Hodge sustained throughout the years pay off as he finally captures an elusive PBA championship with Meralco

MANILA, Philippines – Meralco veteran Cliff Hodge almost always leaves the venue after games with ice packs wrapped around his knees and elbows.

That is the type of physical toll Hodge endures every game as he regularly dives for loose balls, hustles for rebounds, and defends the best big men in the PBA.

It does not help that the two-time All-Defensive Team member is not getting any younger, being the Bolts’ second-oldest player at 36 years old.

But all the pain and injuries Hodge sustained throughout the years paid off as he finally captured an elusive championship with Meralco, which dethroned San Miguel for the Philippine Cup crown.

“It is all worth it. I lay my body on the line any time I have a chance. I would do that for my teammates every game,” said Hodge.

Drafted fourth overall in 2012, Hodge is the Bolts’ longest-tenured player.

That means the Filipino-American forward has been with Meralco through its most challenging times, including four finals losses to Barangay Ginebra in the 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2021 editions of the Governors’ Cup.

Hodge admitted he entertained thoughts that maybe, he will end his PBA career without a title.

“There is always that fear because teams are getting better, younger guys are coming in,” said Hodge, who enjoyed a banner season that also saw him be named as an All-Star for the first time.

“As you get older, you cannot do the things that you’re used to doing when you were younger. Just taking every game like it is my last and giving all I can.”

The Bolts winning the All-Filipino crown looked improbable at the start, especially as they teetered on the brink of missing the playoffs at 11th place after dropping five of their first eight games.

But Meralco ended the eliminations on a three-game winning streak for the No. 3 seed, swept NLEX in the quarterfinals, then outlasted Ginebra in a best-of-seven semifinals to reach the Philippine Cup finals for the first time.

Hodge averaged 11.8 points and 10.3 rebounds in the title series as Bolts disposed of San Miguel in six games.

“No one believed in us, just ourselves believing in each other. Doing it with this group of guys, it is just special to me. We’ve been through a lot of battles, ups and downs,” said Hodge.

“It worked out.” – Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.