ANTIPOLO, Philippines – Not even a nasty fall can stop Cliff Hodge.
Hodge keyed Meralco to a gritty 124-117 overtime win over TNT that tied their best-of-five semifinals in the PBA Governors’ Cup as he shrugged off an unpleasant landing late in regulation that saw him hit his head on the floor.
The wiry big man set the tone in the extra quarter, scoring their first 4 points in the period to finish with 15 points on top of 9 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Hodge also recorded 3 rebounds – a pair coming from the offensive end – and 1 block in overtime as the Bolts avoided falling into a precarious 0-2 series hole.
It was a performance that earned Hodge a comparison to a science fiction character.
“He’s a bionic man,” said Meralco head coach Norman Black. “It takes a lot to keep Cliff Hodge down. He’s really a bionic man.”
The 35-year-old veteran stayed on the court despite the incident with under 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter and played the entire overtime.
Hodge scored back-to-back buckets to open the extra period, sparking a 10-2 blitz Meralco used to completely put away the Tropang Giga.
“I don’t know how I do it either. I’m always banged up. But at this point of the conference, you do whatever it takes to try to get to that next level,” said Hodge.
“And we still haven’t won a championship so I’ll sacrifice anything I need to and everything I need to just to try and get to that next level and finally win one for Meralco.”
Hodge said he made it a point to contribute offensively after being held to single digits in the first two games of the playoffs, averaging just 5.5 points.
“We noticed that Talk ‘N Text really wasn’t guarding me the first game so I wanted to be a little bit more aggressive,” Hodge said.
“Also, we knew we didn’t want to go down 2-0 in a series. We knew this is a huge game for us so we wanted to give it our all and even the series and that’s what we did.”
Hodge does not plan to miss Game 3 as the Bolts look to gain a 2-1 lead at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, March 29.
“A little banged up, I didn’t know what happened. But as long as we win, I’ll do whatever it takes. I’m okay, I’ll be ready for the next game.” – Rappler.com
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