SMART CLARK GIGA CITY – Despite Meralco falling short of making the PBA Philippine Cup finals for the first time ever, evergreen Reynel Hugnatan is mighty proud of what the franchise accomplished in this bubble season.
The 42-year-old forward said fans didn’t give the Bolts a second look, and yet, they were able to drag top seed Barangay Ginebra to a sudden-death game for a chance to play TnT Tropang Giga for the all-Filipino championship.
“Lahat naman siguro hindi nag-e-expect na ganito yung mararating namin kasi sa all-Filipino (yung Meralco) out lagi,” said Hugnatan before the Bolts finally left the league bubble at Quest Hotel late Saturday afternoon.
“Kahit paano umabot kami sa Final Four.”
The Bolts could've gone further, but Scottie Thompson ended up the hero for Barangay Ginebra after nailing the game-winning trey, 83-80, with 0.6 seconds left and Meralco left with no more timeouts to call.
That Thompson trey negated a big three-pointer Hugnatan hit just one play earlier to tie the game at 80-all with 14 seconds left.
“I’m happy for Scottie,” admitted Hugnatan. “Maganda naman yung depensa namin, e. Naka-challenge naman si Bong (Quinto). May kaunting lapse pero nandun pa rin.”
“Nagkataon lang talaga na pumasok yung tira ni Scottie.”
Hugnatan finished Game Five with 12 points and two rebounds as he came up big again for the Bolts, the way he did in previous playoffs appearances.
“Magba-back pick ako kay New (Chris Newsome) nun, e. Pag sumama yung tao, sabi ni coach, mag-pop out ka. Pag open, tira,” Hugnatan recalled of that crucial Meralco play.
“Sabi ko ititira ko talaga. Mabuti nga pumasok.”
But things weren’t meant to be as the Kings had a ready answer in the endgame.
For a veteran like Hugnatan, that’s just the way the ball bounces.
“Ganun talaga ang basketball. May nananalo, may natatalo,” he said. “Siyempre lahat kami nanghihinayang, pero at least lumaban kami.”
“Magandang experience sa amin ito.”