Through the years, Cliff Hodge developed a reputation of someone who always poured everything on the floor for Meralco, literally and figuratively, as the team’s immovable anchor and tireless motor.
And while his contributions may not be reflected on the stat sheet at times, the bruising forward has provided unparalleled impact for the Bolts.
In the do-or-die Game 3 of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup quarterfinals, Hodge was at it again and rose to the occasion as Meralco finally got over the hump and exorcised its agonizing ghost in Barangay Ginebra.
Hodge dropped 13 points, 18 rebounds, and two assists including the crucial offensive foul he drew on reigning Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson in the end game, allowing the Bolts to hang on for a dramatic 106-104 victory and barge in the best-of-seven semifinals series.
The numbers and huge role the 6-foot-4 forward played in the highly-emotional best-of-three series earned him the Cignal Play-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for the period of 27 to 31 July to end the quarterfinals.
In a two-game span, the 10-year veteran averaged a double-double of 19.0 points and 10.0 rebounds, laced with 3.5 assists to serve as the Bolts’ unheralded spark plug in the Bolts’ first ever playoffs series win over their archrivals.
Until the breakthrough win, Meralco is 0-5 against Ginebra in the playoffs, including 0-4 in the finals.
Though the Bolts dropped a close 94-87 loss in Game 2, Hodge also left an imprint in the match behind a conference-high 25 points, two boards, five assists, and two steals.
“I’m just so proud of everybody in our team. We stuck together,” said acting coach Luigi Trillo in lieu of Norman Black, crediting the entire Bolts following a historic victory that set-up their semis date against No. 1 seed San Miguel.
Hodge’s teammates in Chris Newsome, Raymond Almazan, Allein Maliksi, and Alvin Pasaol were also nominated for the weekly citation being handed out by the men and women regularly covering the PBA beat.
Also considered for the award presented by Cignal Play, were TNT’s Mikey Williams, Troy Rosario, and RR Pogoy, San Miguel’s June Mar Fajardo, CJ Perez, Jericho Cruz, and Marcio Lassiter, and Magnolia’s Ian Sangalang, Calvin Abueva and Paul Lee.