Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a former NBA player, made a stunning impact in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) by helping TNT win the PBA Governors’ Cup championship, ending Barangay Ginebra’s two-year reign and earning his first-ever title in the professional ranks.
The 28-year-old Pennsylvania native was in Boracay last January for a quick vacation to maximize his short break from the Korean Basketball League (KBL). However, he was already searching for other options due to his situation with his then-ball club. Hollis-Jefferson was not utilized much by Jeonju KCC, only seeing action for 11.5 minutes per night. He was buried under a frontcourt rotation featuring Ra Gunah (Ricardo Ratliffe) and locals Lee Seonghyun and Heo Ung.
The KBL has a rule that only one import is allowed on the floor, although he still tried to contribute with 10.1 points and 3.8 rebounds. However, things weren’t working out in Korea, so he talked to his agent and asked if anything else was available. That’s when the PBA opportunity came about, and he eventually requested Jeonju for a release that ended his 38-game stint.
Soon, he signed up with the Tropang Giga as a mid-conference replacement for Jalen Hudson, the team’s original import. Head coach Jojo Lastimosa still remembers everything that led to the partnership. And he couldn’t feel happier about how Hollis-Jefferson’s arrival made the team ‘so much better’ – and led to them striking gold.
Their 97-93 win in Game 6 of the Finals saw the reigning Best Import deliver 29 points and 14 rebounds, with six assists and two steals. Hollis-Jefferson was grateful for the opportunity to play with TNT and help them secure the championship. He stated that he needed playing time and was happy to get it with TNT, immediately bonding with the players. With a calm demeanour, he brought calmness to the team and made them better.
Lastimosa and TNT hope to have him back for another run, but they also support his plans to return to where he began: the NBA. Selected by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 23rd overall pick in 2015, the former Arizona Wildcat is not closing his doors on a PBA return. Still, he made it known that his goal, for now, is to make it back to the Association.
The PBA is known for its solid fan base, and it’s not surprising to see players like Hollis-Jefferson taking the opportunity to showcase their skills and earn a championship ring. The PBA is also a good place for players to hone their skills and make a name for themselves, especially those not getting much playing time in their respective leagues.
Hollis-Jefferson’s stint in the PBA was not only a great experience for him but also an excellent opportunity for the league to showcase its talents and prove that it can compete with other basketball leagues worldwide. His arrival was well-received by fans and media alike, and he quickly became a fan favourite due to his exciting style of play and excellent work ethic.
Hollis-Jefferson’s performance in the PBA is a testament to his talent and determination to succeed, regardless of his league. It’s also a great example of how players can use their skills to help a team win a championship, regardless of where they play.