Less than 48 hours after his scintillating 22-point outburst in Game Three, Reynel Hugnatan once again proved that the Meralco Bolts can count on him when winning is necessary, as he used some quick with at the tail-end of Game Four.
The 38-year-old forward did not resort to yet another scoring explosion. This time around, he showcased his passing skills, as his drop pass to Allen Durham led to the game-winning bucket that sent them to a series-tying, 85-83 victory.
“Kanina gusto ko tumira kaso may nag-closeout,” recalled the 13-year veteran — who produced 14 points and dished out four assists in the victory — of the pivotal sequence, “So nag-drive ako. Closeout din si Japeth [Aguilar] yata?
“So pagtalon ko, si Japeth nakita ko tumalon din, so pinasa ko kay Durham.”
Hugnatan was clearly one of Game Four’s heroes, that even the 29-year-old Durham could not help but rave about his senior’s performance. After Friday night, the six-foot-four stretch forward has averaged 18 points in two games.
“He’s been doing it for years and years and years,” said Durham. “I don’t even know how many years he’s been doing it, but I know it’s a long time. So you know, just him getting out the opportunity to play and now he’s actually playing good.
“He’s really helping us out and I think he’s a game-changer for us.”
This series has become the Bacolod native’s renaissance. But for Hugnatan, he is simply fulfilling the role he has been tasked with, now that the Bolts’ frontline has become depleted.
“No choice na kami. Wala nang big guys, so kailangan na mag step up. Ako naman kailangan ko na mag-ready any time,” said Hugnatan, “Hindi natin alam kailan tayo makakapag-Finals uli, syempre kailangan natin [lumaro].
“Itong opportunity na ‘to, dapat panalo na mabibigay ko.”
Now, all eyes are on Hugnatan to see if he can sustain his rhythm, especially now that the series has been reduced to a virtual best-of-three.