THE arrival of 6-foot-9 American import Eric Dawson means good news not only for Meralco but more so for rookie forward Cliff Hodge.
At the receiving end of numerous physical plays and constant banging during the Philippine Cup while playing the `4’ spot for the Bolts, Hodge is now expected to move to shooting forward with Dawson around.
That should mean less knockdowns for Mr. Hodge.
“Actually, (Meralco) coach (Ryan Gregorio) told me he’ll maintain the same minutes I had. But I’ll work on the three-position,” Hodge disclosed to Spin.ph. “I’m extending my range. That’s why I’m working on my jump shots and going to the weights room.”
The 6-foot-4 Hodge, a former star of the NLEX Road Warriors in the PBA D-League, said he’s already used to the physicality of the games in the pro, but hopes to get less taste of it in the coming Commissioner’s Cup.
"Well, I’m used to it (banging). We always play like that (in NLEX). But if I move out (of the No. 4 position), I’ll get more rebounds because I can sneak in and grab the ball,” said the No. 4 overall pick in the draft who averaged 10.5 points and 7.4 rebounds in 30.1 minutes of action for the Bolts in the Philippine Cup.
During the quarterfinal playoffs between the Bolts and the Alaska Aces, Hodge and fellow rookie Calvin Abueva figured in numerous physical encounters in a battle between two of the league’s young and energetic power forwards.
It was the 6-foot-1 Abueva, however, who got the better end of the match-up as the Aces completed a 2-0 sweep of the Bolts to advance to the semifinals.
Hodge readily played down the physicality, saying it was nothing personal.
“We’re friends while playing at NLEX. It’s just that the media and even fans tried to create a rivalry. But it’s not that we hate each other. He plays just like how he plays and he does what he does,” said the Reedley College alumnus.