HE'S only in his rookie season, yet Cliff Hodge is already playing like a veteran for Meralco in the PBA Philippine Cup.
The No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft, Hodge came up big in the Bolts’ last two games, leading to victories against Alaska and Barangay Ginebra that gave the team a share of second place with two others in the season-opening conference.
Hodge had 13 points, six rebounds, four assists, four blocks, and two steals as the Bolts came from behind to nip Barangay Ginebra, 95-88, in the league’s first road game this season in Digos City on Saturday - a performance that came on the heels of his 20-point, 11-rebound effort in a 93-86 win over Alaska.
Hodge averaged 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, and 1.5 steals in the two wins in a performance that gave fresh hope to the young franchise and made the Fil-American forward the first rookie this season to be named Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week.
Hodge, from Pensacola, Florida, actually became the first freshman in over a year to earn the distinction in the Philippine Cup. He is also the first rookie winner since Paul Lee won Player of the Week honors twice in the 2012 Governors Cup, according to PBA chief statistician and Spin.ph columnist Fidel Mangonon.
Hodge edged out Rain or Shine’s Jeff Chan for the weekly honor for the period covering October 8 to 14.
Coach Ryan Gregorio naturally has nothing but good words for his hard-working rookie.
“It (citation) speaks volumes of his significant contributions to our team. The tangible contributions are quite obvious: Team leaders in points, rebounds, and blocks,” Gregorio noted.
“But the biggest impact he brings to the table is his limitless energy. His enthusiasm is rubbing off to all the members of our team that is beyond numbers and statistics.”
The 24-year-old Hodge was quick to play down what he has done for the Bolts so far, emphasizing their two straight wins were the result of team work.
“It’s a team game, and I would like to thank my teammates for the hard work in both games because I wouldn’t be getting this award without them,” said Hodge, whose mother is from Cavite.
“Total team effort in both games.”
Hodge debuted with 19 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and a steal in Meralco’s 110-112 overtime loss against defending champion Talk `N Text.