MERALCO forward Cliff Hodge insisted that he is not a dirty player and his apparent punch on Rain or Shine center Raymond Almazan was unintentional.
The Meralco sophomore on Friday was hit with a P20,000 fine for his closed-fist hit on the reed-thin rookie slotman in the endgame of the Elasto Painters’ 102-92 win that evened the best-of-three quarterfinal series.
The Bolts’ energizer bunny said he was just trying “brace for impact” when he hit Almazan in the face as he saw Paul Lee underneath when he was still trying to get the rebound.
“I’m not a dirty player,” Hodge said in a chat with Spin.ph after appearing before Commissioner Chito Salud. “In my history, I haven’t been called for anything dirty. The way I play, I play hard. I play to win. I play all-out, and sometimes it seems that I’m playing a little too physical.”
“(But) I’m not going out to punch anybody in the face. Never would I go out (and do that intentionally). First of all, if I do, it’s a chance for me to get thrown out then I’m just hurting my team. It’s not a smart play.
“On top of that, I had no bad blood with Almazan. Me and him, actually, we’re pretty cool. I don’t know about now, because I hit him. But I’m going to apologize to him personally before the next game,” the former D-League MVP added.
It was the second time Hodge was summoned in his two years in the PBA, the first one for flopping.
The Bolts and Painters meet in the decider on Saturday.