Home Sports Brandon Bates’ emergence comes timely for Cliff Hodge, Meralco

Brandon Bates’ emergence comes timely for Cliff Hodge, Meralco


Cliff Hodge Meralco Bolts PBA Finals

Meralco Bolts’ Cliff Hodge during the PBA Finals press conference.–PBA IMAGES

SCHEDULE: PBA Philippine Cup Finals San Miguel vs Meralco

MANILA, Philippines—Veteran forward Cliff Hodge couldn’t be more proud seeing the progression of Meralco rookie Brandon Bates.

After a slow start to his young PBA career, Bates has found his niche with the Bolts when it mattered most and his emergence was one of the reasons why his team is in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.

“It just helps me because I can take a few minutes of rest. I need that. I’m getting old,” said the 36-year-old Hodge, who is in his 11th season in the league.

“When he got into the league, people weren’t too sure about him if he can use his size or be effective on the court but we just wanted to give him confidence. The more he plays, the better confidence he’ll get. It just showed in that Ginebra series that he was huge.”

Bates played his best game yet in Meralco’s Game 7 win over Barangay Ginebra, making his presence felt on both ends with six points, 13 rebounds and six blocks to help the Bolts conquer their longtime tormentor and reach the championship round.

READ: ‘Best’ team stands in way of Meralco’s quest for first PBA crown

Brandon Bates Meralco Bolts PBA Finals

Meralco Bolts rookie Brandon Bates.–PBA IMAGES

Bates, the eighth overall pick in last year’s draft, has certainly come a long way after trying to find his footing in his first few months with Meralco.

With added experience and more playing time in the all-Filipino conference, Bates upped his game and has made himself a valuable piece in the Bolts’ unexpected run to the finals.

“I’m super proud of him. Anytime a rookie comes in and can help you out, it’s huge.”

READ: PBA Finals: June Mar Fajardo ‘nervous’ ahead of matchup vs Meralco towers

After holding his own against the Gin Kings’ star big man Christian Standhardinger in the semifinals, the 6-foot-9 Bates will face his toughest test yet against San Miguel Beer’s seven-time MVP June Mar Fajardo beginning Wednesday night in Game 1.

Fortunately for Bates, he won’t be alone in trying to contain Fajardo.

“I think it’s going to take the whole team, not just us two. That team is built so well, all their players are dangerous and we’ll just follow our coaches’ game plan and I’m sure they’ll give us the keys to stopping them or slowing them down.”

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“Then, we’ll have a good chance at winning the championship.”

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