Cliff Hodge says 1-win total in All-Filipino key to Meralco’s dramatic turnaround

Cliff Hodge said Meralco’s very first PBA Finals was spurred by the Bolts’ one-win output in the Philippine Cup.

The fourth overall pick in the 2012 PBA Draft said since the team’s abysmal performance in the All-Filipino conference, everyone decided to go back to the gym and begin the hard work back to respectability.

“That first conference was an eye-opener. We lost a lot of close games and after the conference, we decided to go back to the gym, and we decided to switch it around,” Hodge said, moments after stepping out of Meralco’s dugout, which was in a celebratory mood following the Bolts’ series-clinching 3-1 win over the TNT Katropa in the Governors Cup Monday.

The Bolts managed to reach the semifinals in the Commissioner’s Cup behind Best Import Arinze Onuaku, before bowing to the Alaska Aces, 3-2 in the series.

“In the second conference, we got all the way almost the minute to the Finals, and we grew as a team because the last game (Game 3), Papa Rey (Hugnatan) stepped up, and the other game, AD (Allen Durham) stepped up, so it feels good because everybody’s stepping up,” he added.

The Fil-American forward punctuated the semifinal series with a PBA career-high 32 points, spiked by three triples, including two inside the final four minutes to seal Meralco’s Game 4 victory, 94-88.

Asked which team he would prefer to play come the Governors Cup, without batting an eyelash, Hodge singled out crowd darling Barangay Ginebra.

“I want Ginebra. I love playing against the crowd, when it’s a big crowd, everyone’s feeding off the adrenaline,” he said with a smile.

The Bolts will know their would-be Finals opponents Tuesday night when Ginebra and defending champion San Miguel clash in their do-or-die Game 5 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. – Richard Dy

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