Meralco head coach Norman Black was all praises for his rugged forward Reynel Hugnatan who seemingly has found the mythical “Fountain of Youth” inside the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) “bubble.”
A day after he celebrated his 42nd birthday, the Bacolod City-native was all business against Blackwater and scored 14 points to help the Bolts snatch an 89-85 victory. That performance upped his averages inside the “bubble” to 12.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists, which is far-cry from his lackluster performance last season where he nomed a mere 3.6 points per game.
“Reynel’s birthday was yesterday. He turned 42 years old. It’s an amazement that he is still playing at the level he is playing despite the fact that he is getting older,” said Black of Hugnatan.
“We call him ‘Pops’ and he comes to work everyday, he puts the work in and he keeps his body in great shape,” Black added.
Cebuanos are quite familiar with Hugnatan’s body of work as he was once a star for Cebu’s arch-nemesis in the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association — the Negros Slashers. Today, he’s the third oldest active player in the league behind NLEX’s Asi Taulava and Magnolia’s Rafi Reavis.
Black said Hugnatan’s commitment to his body during the long layoff is a big reason why he’s playing so well this conference.
“Reynel, probably along with (Chris) Newsome, has been our consistent scorer right at the start of the conference. A lot of it has to do with the fact that he kept himself in great shape during the pandemic when we weren’t playing,” said Black.
The former Best Import turned head coach was also all praises for Hugnatan’s professionalism and dedication.
“Reynel is the type that he really doesn’t have to be told to do anything because he does it because he is a professional. It is really helping us right now," relayed Meralco’s tactician.
"I didn’t expect Reynel Hugnatan would be one of our leading scorers this conference to be quite honest with you, but I’m accepting the fact that he is there every single for us. He is playing well and he is going to be there on the court," Black continued. (JNP)