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With De Ocampo out, Hugnatan steps up for Meralco

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Many thought Ranidel De Ocampo will be the difference for the PBA Governors' Cup Finals between Meralco and Ginebra.

But De Ocampo somehow struggled two games into the championship series, only averaging 9.0 points and making 1-of-8 triples.

What's worse, De Ocampo suffered a leg injury early into Game 3 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Wednesday night.

With the Bolts looking for answers on how to make up for De Ocampo's absence, they turned to an unsung hero.

"Reynel [Hugnatan] is basically subbing in for AD (Allen Durham), but Ranidel is out, so he has to step up and take the position that Ranidel occupies," said Coach Norman Black. "He's been doing that for me for the past three years, so he's accustomed to doing that."

Hugnatan answered the call.

The six-foot-five forward unleashed a performance we did not even see during his earlier days with Negros in the MBA, Coca-Cola, and Alaska, dropping seven triples and helped Meralco extend its season with a 94-81 win over Ginebra.

"I know Ranidel is out, so I need to step up," Hugnatan identically echoed Black's sentiments. "Buti na lang, nakaka-shoot."

He then vowed that an encore will happen in Game 4 come Friday night.

"When I'm open, I will [shoot]," Hugnatan particularly said.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno