In the latter part of his career, Reynel Hugnatan has transformed from being a utility player to a stretch big man.
Last year, he proved that by helping the Meralco Bolts make their first finals appearance in franchise history.
The 38-year-old veteran stepped up once again for Meralco, filling the void left by the injured Ranidel De Ocampo by knocking down seven triples en route to a 22-point output which propelled the Bolts to a Game Three win in the Oppo PBA Governors’ Cup finals.
Reigning two-time Best Import awardee Allen Durham hopes Hugnatan could carry his big game into Game 4 as the Bolts aim to level the series at 2-2.
“Last year, we were playing very good and he would knock down the shots and we made it to the finals. Hopefully, he can bring some more magic for Game 4. Papa Rey is professional. He knows he always has to be ready. He’s got to be ready when his number is called. That’s what he showed tonight,” Durham told InterAksyon.
Meralco head coach Norman Black wasn’t surprised with the way Hugnatan played and gave a lot of credit to his tried-and-tested frontliner.
“He’s been doing that for me for the last two years. He’s accustomed to doing that already. As you know, we don’t have Kelly Nabong, so it’s going to rest on the shoulders of Reynel and Bryan Faundo on the forward as far as our backup bigs is concerned. He did a good job tonight spacing the floor. Very similar to what he did in the playoffs last year. It makes a lot things easier for AD when guys make their outside shots,” he said.
“Reynel is basically subbing in for AD (Allen Durham), so his playing time is limited, not just in this series but also in the series before this. With Ranidel going out, obviously he has to step up and occupy the position of Ranidel.”