REYNEL Hugnatan has really embraced his new role as a stretch forward for Meralco, hitting the timeliest treys in the Bolts’ 107-103 win over Ginebra in Game Three of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals on Wednesday night.
Missing his first four shots from deep hardly discouraged the veteran Bolts forward from plugging away as he finally knocked one down in the fourth quarter before making his next two after that to shine brightest in the victory.
“My teammates just keep telling me to keep shooting, keep shooting,” Hugnatan said. “So ayun, open naman ako.”
According to league statistician Fidel Mangonon III, Hugnatan had made only 14 three-pointers his entire pro career since 2003, before matching that output for this conference alone coming into Game Three.
The 13-year veteran added three more on Wednesday night, the last that gave them a 105-98 lead with 42.2 seconds left - enough cushion to withstand a late rally.
“Si coach, talagang sobrang thankful ako sa kanya kasi everytime na open ako sa three points, sabi niya sa akin na itira ko,” Hugnatan said of coach Norman Black.
And the Meralco coach couldn’t be prouder after his steady forward also caught fire in the semifinals against Tropang TNT.
“He did it against Talk ‘N Text and he did it again tonight, so it’s definitely not a fluke,” Black said. “Those were some huge three-point shots that he made and I’m just going to let him take them because that’s one of the main reasons why we’re here in the finals and we’re up two games to one.”
“My hat’s off to Reynel because when he makes those shots, it really takes a lot of pressure off of Allen Durham and it makes it a little bit more difficult for them to double team,” he added.