SINCE entering the PBA as a fourth pick overall, Clifford Hodge’s energy and fearlessness on the hard court has made him an object of desire by other teams and their fans.
But in three years in the league, Hodge rued he has yet to earn the nod of fans or coaches for a spot in the All-Star Game.
“Zero,” Hodge told Spin.ph with a smile when asked about his All-Star appearances. “But it’s alright, I think I should do more positioning like how many players are at certain positions, hopefully, I don’t know.”
In the last All-Stars in Puerto Princesa, Hodge was beaten for the spot by teammate Reynel Hugnatan who played for the South Team as a reliever after a poll among PBA coaches.
Hodge was honest enough to admit that it pains him to watch the annual mid-season festivities on television, to the point that most of the time he has asked himself what he still needs to do to make it.
But the former Reedley College standout said the constant snub has become some sort of motivation.
“Definitely, it’s a motivation. It just makes me look at my game and things I need to work on. I really want to get there so hopefully next year is the magic number,” he said.
Hodge reiterated that watching the All-Stars on television every year and seeing the Instagram posts of fellow players who became part of the midseason spectacle give him a feeling of emptiness.
“It’s not just me, but for all players whenever you watch the All-Star games, you’re like, ‘Man, I should be in there.’ And then you see some other guys out there, you feel you’re better than,” he said.
“You’re watching it, you say to yourself, ‘Ok, I just gotta get better,'” he said while insisting how he has worked double time on his dribbling, post-up game, mid-range, three point shots.
“I am just gonna work hard 'till I get there,” he added.
And every year that his name was not included among the top vote-getters, Hodge said he keeps telling himself he's coming close.
“I feel like I am getting better there. I’d rather not be (vying for the votes of the coaches) but rather of the fans, for them to see me get better all the time,” Hodge said.
The 2011 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist, however, believes his team can give him a leg up in his All-Star dream if it starts contending for championsips.
“If you notice, some of the players there are from the teams which are high in the team standings,” said Hodge. “So that is one of our aims in our team, we maintain the kind of game we’re showing, hopefully reach the playoffs, win the title and expect to see some more of our teammates playing there next year.”
Hodge is also optimistic that the planned Homegrown versus Fil-Foreign showdown in the All Stars will be approved next year so he can get a better chance.
“I hope it happens. Are they doing Fil-Ams versus locals, it will be one of my goals,” he said. “But this I assure you, every year I am not chosen, that means I am going to get better next year.”
For video of full interview with Hodge, see: