Veteran Reynel Hugnatan picks perfect time to shine as Arinze Onuaku shackled anew
Reynel Hugnatan had a season-high 20 points on top of seven rebounds for Meralco. Jerome Ascano

REYNEL Hugnatan picked the right time to have an offensive resurgence that proved key in Meralco’s 104-97 win over NLEX in their Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinal matchup on Monday night.

The Bolts forward, who averaged just 6.2 points in the elimination round, pumped in a season-high 20 points on top of seven rebounds in 29 minutes off the bench as he shone brightest for the Bolts, who advanced to the semifinals for the second straight time in the midseason tournament.

Hugnatan took advantage when import Arinze Onuaku was facing double- and triple-teams once again.

“Pag dino-double si Arinze, sa akin napupunta yung opensa,” the 6-foot-5 forward. “Pag open, tira, pag wala, extra pass.”

“Lagi lang akong ready,” the 37-year-old cager added. “Kailangan laging nasa kundisyon. Disiplina lang din. Medyo may edad na so dapat mas aware sa pagkain, puyat, inom, at extra work of course.”

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And Bolts coach Norman Black was quick to praise the 13-year veteran.

“Reynel carried us for a long time when Arinze was struggling,” Black said after Onuaku finished with just 13 points on 10 attempts and 11 boards in 36 minutes.

Hugnatan admitted the Bolts remain motivated by their embarrassing Philippine Cup campaign where they won just one of their 11 outings.

“Naging motivation sa amin yung unang conference kasi lahat kami disappointed,” the Bacolod native said. “Ngayon, nag-focus talaga kami. Malaking bagay si Arinze sa amin kasi yun talaga ang kulang sa amin kasi wala kaming big guy. Lahat kami nagtutulungan.”

While being motivated of the past, Hugnatan and the Bolts remain focused on the present.

“Sana mas maganda yung resulta ngayon,” he said. “Opportunity ulit, kaya sana mas maganda yung outcome. Kung sino man ang makalaban namin, paghahandaan namin kasi sayang ang opportunity eh. Minsan lang mangyari ito.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos