Meralco Bolts pulled off a stunning 124-117 overtime win against TNT Tropang Giga in Game 2 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Final Four on Sunday at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo.
The victory was largely attributed to the grit and determination of Cliff Hodge, who shrugged off a hard fall late in the game and helped spark Meralco’s breakaway in extra time.
Hodge, dubbed “the Bionic Man” by Meralco coach Norman Black, bounced back quickly after his head hit the floor and stayed in the game during overtime, scoring back-to-back baskets and blocking Calvin Oftana.
Aaron Black then took over, scoring three successive baskets to put the Bolts ahead 119-114, and ultimately securing the win for Meralco.
Black ended the game with 28 points and 10 rebounds, while Hodge had 15 points and nine boards.
KJ McDaniels led the scoring for TNT with 39 points and 20 rebounds, while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 22 points, 15 rebounds, and nine assists, but missed two crucial free throws in the final 21 seconds that could have sealed the win for the Tropang Giga.
The victory was especially sweet for the Meralco Bolts, who were looking to avenge their 110-80 loss in Game 1 of the series.
The Bolts had a 12-point lead at halftime, but TNT came back strong in the second half, behind the scoring efforts of Hollis-Jefferson and Mikey Williams, who combined for 56 points.
Cliff Hodge’s tenacity and defensive prowess proved crucial for Meralco as they secured a victory over TNT Tropang Giga in the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals.
Despite suffering a hard fall late in regulation play, Hodge bounced back and scored the first four points of the extra session. He then shifted his focus to defense, guarding TNT import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and helped Meralco seal the win.
Hodge’s contributions were no surprise as he has long been known for his gung-ho style of play and blue-collar work ethic.
He was even recognized as a member of last season’s All-Defensive Team.
Since being drafted by the Meralco franchise in 2012, Hodge’s playing style has remained consistent, and he has managed to avoid major injuries despite often being banged up.
“I don’t know how I do it either,” Hodge said of his ability to stay healthy. “I’m always banged up.” Nonetheless, his determination and grit have proven to be invaluable for Meralco as they look to secure their spot in the finals.
He expressed that during this phase of the tournament, he is willing to do whatever it takes to move to the next level and win a championship for Meralco.
Hodge added that that he is ready to make sacrifices and do everything necessary to achieve this goal.
Despite the loss, TNT still has a chance to take a 2-1 series lead when the action moves to the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday.
Meralco will need to continue to rely on the toughness of players like Hodge and the scoring prowess of Black and McDaniels to secure a spot in the PBA Governors’ Cup finals.
Meralco 124 – McDaniels 39, Black 28, Hodge 15, Maliksi 11, Quinto 11, Banchero 7, Newsome 5, Caram 3, Jose 3, Almazan 2.
TNT 117 – M.Williams 29, Hollis-Jefferson 27,Castro 17, Oftana 13, Pogoy 12, Chua 11, Erram 6, Marcelo 2, Khobuntin 0, Varilla 0, Montalbo 0.