By Adrian Stewart Co
Bacolodnon centers Reynel Hugnatan and Siverino “Nonoy” Baclao will remain with the Meralco Bolts after agreeing to contract extensions ahead of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup.
Bolts team manager Paolo Trillo said the 42-year-old Hugnatan was signed up to a new deal, which terms were not disclosed, following his solid showing in the 2020 season that merited him to be a candidate for the Most Improved Player award.
Hugnatan, who won three championships with the defunct Coca-Cola Tigers and the Alaska Aces, was a pillar of strength for the Bolts as he helped the team gain its first ever semifinals stint in the Philippine Cup.
“It’s a fitting reward to his contribution, especially after what he did in the recent Bubble tournament,” said Trillo in an interview with PBA website. “We’re excited to have him back.”
Apart from Hugnatan, the Bolts have also agreed to a new deal with another Bacolodnon center in Baclao, who arrived in Meralco last season but was not able to play during the PBA bubble.
Bolts head coach Norman Black said that the former Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles center could have been a big help for the team had the PBA not changed a rule inside the bubble at the last minute.
“The one person we’ve missed on this trip is Noy Baclao. He would have helped a great deal as far as our depth,” Black said, whose squad was one game short from making it to the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup finals.
Black added that he couldn’t wait to see a healthy Baclao, who recovered from a ruptured patellar tendon, complimenting big men Raymond Almazan, Cliff Hodge and Hugnatan in the middle./ASC, WDJ