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MANILA, Philippines – Dubbed the “Left-handed Kobe” due to his striking similarities with the late, great NBA legend Kobe Bryant, Jordan’s naturalized player Rondae Hollis-Jefferson continues to channel his inner “Mamba Mentality” in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
Although his team absorbed a heartbreaking 95-87 overtime loss to New Zealand, Hollis-Jefferson put on a show at the Mall of Asia Arena on Monday, August 28, as he scored the most points yet in this year’s World Cup with 39, surpassing the previous mark of 37 set by Slovenia superstar Luka Doncic last Saturday, August 26.
Hollis-Jefferson’s sensational 39-point output consisted of an array of Kobe-esque moves, including a cold-blooded four-point play late in the fourth quarter, which sent the game into extra period.
Chants of “Kobe” then erupted at the Mall of Asia Arena as fans were simply astonished by the resemblance between Hollis-Jefferson and the Los Angeles Lakers icon Bryant.
“It means a lot, it’s an honor. Definitely there’s only one Kobe,” said Hollis-Jefferson – who also wears the No. 24 – of the comparisons to Bryant.
“But to feel that love and energy coming down the stretch, hitting those big shots, God was with me and Kobe was with me, for sure.”
Among those who witnessed Hollis-Jefferson’s remarkable World Cup performance live was his TNT Tropang Giga head coach Jojo Lastimosa.
Hollis-Jefferson, who powered TNT to the PBA Governors’ Cup championship earlier this year, feels grateful for Lastimosa’s support as they are set to run it back in the upcoming Commissioner’s Cup in October.
“That’s my guy, we talk all the time,” said Hollis-Jefferson of Lastimosa.
“I appreciate and love him, he’s been a great guy and a great mentor. I look forward to the [PBA] season.” – Rappler.com