Norman Black glad to have fit-again Cliff Hodge back as Bolts regain defensive teeth in win vs Star
Cliff Hodge suited up in just his second game back after an ankle injury and gave the Bolts the defensive spark it needed vs Star. Karlo Sacamos

STA. ROSA – Cliff Hodge underscored his significance to Meralco as he added muscle and tenacity to the team’s defense that factored in the 96-90 win over Star in their PBA Governors’ Cup road game in Laguna.

While Allen Durham did most of the heavy lifting as usual and Baser Amer, Garvo Lanete, and Chris Newsome provided the scoring support, it was Hodge who anchored the defense in his second game back after being sidelined with an ankle injury.

The Bolts’ energizer bunny also delivered on offense as he finished with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, seven boards, and one assist without committing a single turnover in almost 34 minutes of play.

[See Durham flirts with 30-30 game as Meralco sends Star reeling to third straight loss]

“It was nice to have Cliff back at almost full health tonight, because since he got injured, our defense hasn’t really been the same,” Bolts coach Norman Black said. “He was pretty much back to full strength tonight.”

“Our defense was much better, our rotations were much better, and we had more flexibility on when we can switch pick-and-rolls,” he added. “And that helped us a lot today.”

Hodge took the unenviable task to defend Malcolm Hill at times, even having some words with the Hotshots import as both teams retreated to their respective benches after the third-quarter buzzer sounded.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos