MERALCO’S Cliff Hodge played down the verbal spat he had with Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone in the third quarter of the Bolts' 93-82 win on Friday night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Cone and Hodge exchanged heated words after the Ginebra coach stormed to the court after an obvious goal-tending by Arinze Onuaku on a Justin Brownlee layup was missed by the referees.
Hodge admitted he told Cone to get off the court, earning Cone's ire.
“He got on the court and then I told him to get off the court. That’s pretty much it,” said Hodge. “I think he got mad about one of the calls. Something like that. I was like, he must not be on the court so I told him to get off the court.”
The Fil-Am forward said he also wanted to get in Cone's head.
"He got mad when I told him. But it’s part of the game. He’s kinda frustrated so I was trying to get to his skin also,” said Hodge.
Cone immediately left the Mall of Asia Arena after the loss without talking to reporters, but Meralco coach Norman Black assured he will speak with Hodge about the incident.
“I don’t want Cliff to be involved with that to be honest with you,” said Black. “Obviously, Tim is one of the best coaches ever in the Philippines. I think all players should give that respect. Coaches are not talking to the player, then the player should not be talking to the coach. I’ve had my instances in the past. I couldn’t accept players talking to me.
“I’ll talk to Cliff to show respect to Tim and to his team as much as possible. I didn’t really like the fact that it happened,” said Black.
Hodge said Black talked to him after the game.
“He just really told me to just make sure I’m under control and don’t do anything that can hurt the team, get a technical, or anything like that. I know I’m not going overboard or anything like that. It’s part of the game,” Hodge said.
Hodge believes Cone will not take the incident personal.
“We don’t really see each other too often. If he wants to talk to me, he can. But I mean, honestly, it’s part of the game. I know probably he is thinking the same thing. No one takes it personal after the game is over,” said Hodge.