Photo from PBA

Key players Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge along with reserve big man Raymar Jose have been officially cleared to suit up for Meralco’s final two games of the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations after spending the last two weeks under the league’s COVID-19 protocols.

Team manager Paolo Trillo confirmed the return of the three players for their back-to-back assignments against the NLEX Road Warriors and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sept. 22 and 23 after playing shorthanded during their two victories last week.

Newsome, Hodge and Jose were the only three players who didn’t suit up when Meralco beat Terrafirma and Blackwater in their first two games back from health and safety guidelines.

The whole Meralco team was placed under the said protocols after its scheduled match against Ginebra was postponed last Sept. 4.

Twelve players, coach Norman Black and two assistants were able to appear in Meralco’s return against Terrafirma before Trillo and other team personnel were cleared for the Blackwater match.

Having additional warm bodies, particularly two of its main men, will be a huge help in Meralco’s quest to win at least one of its remaining two games to clinch the twice-to-beat advantage.

Newsome is leading the Bolts in scoring this conference with an average of 12.9 points while also posting 4.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.6 steals in seven games while Hodge has logged 8.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals also in seven appearances.

Jose has only played three games for Meralco and registered 2.0 points and 2.7 rebounds.

Source: Manila Bulletin (