More than his first per title, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson grateful for opportunity with TNT – rezal404

Rondae Hollis Jefferson Justin Brownlee PBA

TNT’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson chops it up post-game with Barangay Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee. Denison Dalupang/Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines-Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is glad to have notched his first-ever title as a pro basketball player with TNT.

But the American forward is even more grateful for something else.

“Words can’t describe how I feel right now. I am truly humbled and honored but I give a lot of credit to the guys I have played with,” he told the Inquirer as the din of the club’s Governors’ Cup title celebrations died down at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“(The Tropang Giga) allowed me in. They let me be a leader and showed me different things—and I think that’s the (biggest) beauty in it.”

Hollis-Jefferson was actually vacationing in Boracay and licking his wounds from a botched campaign in South Korea when an opportunity with TNT cropped up.

Interim coach and team manager Jojo Lastimosa then pulled the trigger on the move to bring the former Brooklyn Net and replace the efficient Jalen Hudson in what seems to be a copy of his counterpart Tim Cone’s old playbook.

“It’s been (Tim’s) blueprint ever since: Have high-character players who run a really tight system on both offense and defense,” Lastimosa told the Inquirer in a previous interview.

The gambit paid off on Friday when TNT dethroned back-to-back champion and crowd darling Barangay Ginebra.

“Character, that’s the foundation for anything when you’re trying to build. You want to build great people, show them care and compassion so that if a brother’s in need of help, a sister’s in a situation, they’d take care of you at the end of the day,” said Hollis-Jefferson, who also won the tournament’s Best Import race.

“’JoLas’ is big on culture. He’s big on building character and instilling [values] in the guys. A big shoutout to him for allowing me to come in and be a part of it all. It’s been phenomenal,” he said.

As Hollis-Jefferson made his way out of the Big Dome, he was also greeted by Justin Brownlee—another high-character guy who had been integral for Cone and the Gin Kings and hands-down the most beloved PBA import of this generation.

The two shared a light moment with Brownlee’s son Jye joining the chat and even showing the father selfies he took with TNT players, including the Tropang Giga import.

“Definitely a phenomenal player,” Hollis-Jefferson said of his counterpart. “We were just talking to each other about guarding each other, man. It was a battle and I really hope the fans enjoyed it.

“And man, I’d love to play against him again,” he went on with a smile.


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