He’s there when there’s danger.
He’s there for every loose balls.
He’s there up in the air without regard for personal safety.
He’s always in the middle of where the action is.
Cliff Hodge could be few personification of how the “buwis-buhay” brand of basketball is played in the Philippines. It’s not new to every Pinoy hoops fan that we see that “patayan brand” or the sport even before I was born. Not all players will risk their shoulders nor their ankles nor their faces nor their body just to get a hand on those balls and give his team an extra possession – especially when they’ve just got a tattoo of the rugged the style of play is in this league from the previous sequence.
But for the Meralco Bolts’ energizer bunny, there’s no such thing as safety.
There are lots of monickers that athletes can label themselves but if PBA is WWE, Cliff is the league’s “Lunatic Fringe”.
Dean Ambrose will even come close to where the most pain is. He climbs up the top turnbuckle for a flying elbow despite being in obvious pain. He’ll dive off the second turnbuckle and fly to hit whoever he is facing.
He knows how dangerous those stunts are but his actions clearly show he never came across the words “danger” and “pain”. He feels the pain but maybe he just did not know how to put that feeling in words.
And now that we’re less than a month away from Wrestlemania, he will face a former UFC Heavyweight Champion (Yes, a former Heavyweight Champion of the real thing) and arguably the most destructive force of this era in Brock Lesnar to a No Holds Barred – Streetfight.
No disqualifications. Do whatever you want to pin your opponent.
It was not a booked match (on-screen). He asked for it after being assaulted by the beast himself.
Back to Clifford.
He plays through pain. He goes hard for the ball even with a gauze wrapped around his head. He still dives for the 50:50 balls like a rabid animal even after hurting his shoulder. He still goes for a putback hammer even with his injured wrist. He still bang bodies underneath regardless of circumstances.
All of them, not including his courageous chasedown blocks and deflections out of nowhere, appears to be an effect of his tremendous adrenaline.
Simply put, he appears to be always where the pain is and together with his developed touch beyond the arc, it’ll be a pick-your-poison for all teams – let him shoot or he’ll give you hell on the defensive end.
Perhaps, somebody’s gotta check if the floor’s got magnet for the gravity to work on its normal ways for Hodge so that he won’t lay flat in his back several times.
If there’s a career-high for that, he’s got 16.
Or maybe more!
For sure, there will be a player that will suplex him from mid-court to the sidelines but he will still stand up, chase you on the fastbreak and swat that leather off the floor with authority.