October 19, 2017

Bolts can always count on Papa Rey

REYNEL Hugnatan assures everybody there's still plenty left in his three-point tank. "Meron pa... marami pa," he maintained.

He and the rest of Meralco's remaining bigs should, for their help is really needed in the Bolts' bid to turn the PBA Governors Cup championship duel with Ginebra into a real nail-biter.

Hugnatan was a big reason for Meralco's 94-81 victory last Wednesday that cut Ginebra's lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1. The Bolts could even tie it up should they win anew in Game 4 Friday.

Hugnatan should be a big factor in Meralco's bid after exploding for 22 points in the win.

The southpaw from Bacolod anchored his performance on a 7-for-12 three-point shooting, helping stretch the Kings' defense and enabling Bolts import Allen Durham to do his usual damage inside en route to a 38-point, 22-rebound game.

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Two of Hugnatan's treys came during Meralco's decisive surge from a 75-77 count with the last one making it an unassailable 94-81 spread, only 63 ticks left.

What makes the 38-year-old forward's effort more impressive is the fact he came into the game averaging just 1.0 point for the series. The explosion also came at a time after Ranidel de Ocampo got sidelined due to a suspected left calf muscle tear.

"I knew Ranidel is out so I needed to step up. Buti naman gumanda ang shooting," said Hugnatan.

Durham only has glowing words for Hugnatan after the game. "Papa Rey he really came through really big for us," he said.

"It really stretched their defense out and I was able to get to the basket a little bit easier and that's what happened tonight. Hopefully he can bring some more magic in Game 4."

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That is precisely what Meralco coach Norman Black is hoping for. "As you know, we don't have Kelly Nabong so it's really gonna rest on the shoulders of Reynel and Brian Faundo going forward as far as our back-up bigs are concerned," he said.

Durham knows what to expect of Hugnatan in the upcoming games.

"Papa Rey is a professional. He always gonna be ready," he said. "He always gonna be ready to step up if his number's called."

Hugnatan simply wants to help his team any way he can. "Kung ano lang naman ang magagawa ko and if having to shoot more 3s is part of that then I would," he said.

"Basta ang alam ko nandiyan lang naman ang shooting ko and I hope makatulong itong game na ito para magkaroon ng more confidence para sa next game."