MANILA, Philippines – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.
The former NBA player put together a near triple-double in his PBA debut as TNT clobbered Blackwater in a 138-116 rout on Wednesday, February 15, for a share of the top spot in the PBA Governors’ Cup.
Coming in as a replacement for Jalen Hudson, Hollis-Jefferson churned out 37 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 blocks to help the Tropang Giga raise their record to 6-1.
“I like to look at myself and say I’m a poor man’s LeBron (James), where it’s about making your teammates better, making the game flow, and when the team needs me to score, being able to do that as well,” said Hollis-Jefferson.
Despite a fiery start with Hudson, TNT pulled the trigger on its import switch and brought in Hollis-Jefferson with the emphasis on better ball movement.
Prior to the game against the Bossing, the Tropang Giga ranked 11th out of the 12 teams in the assists department with 18.8 per game.
But with Hollis-Jefferson on board, TNT dished out 28 dimes against Blackwater to hike its conference average to 20.1 assists, which now rank eighth in the league.
“How Rondae played, that’s what we expected from him, a little bit of everything – rebounding, passing, defense, running the floor, communicating on defense,” said Tropang Giga head coach Jojo Lastimosa.
“I don’t really expect him to score that much, because he’s not really a volume shooter like Jalen. Jalen is a talented scorer, Rondae is built differently. But the good thing that’s happening is that we’re moving the ball around.”
Even with Hollis-Jefferson taking 23 shots, the rest of the TNT players still thrived on offense, particularly Roger Pogoy.
Pogoy waxed hot for a season-high 40 points on a 13-of-21 shooting, including a 7-of-13 clip from long distance, while three more scored in double figures: Mikey Williams (14), Glenn Khobuntin (13), and Calvin Oftana (11).
“I think I fit in pretty well. At the end of the day, I think since the focus is on the import a lot of the time, the import makes it more about them than it needs to be,” said Hollis-Jefferson.
“Sometimes we may tend to overshoot even when there’s a guy open. I think it makes it easier that they brought me in to be able to facilitate, pass the ball so they can get easier shots.”
Hollis-Jefferson will go up against another former NBA player in KJ McDaniels as TNT battles Meralco next on Friday, February 17, at the Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com
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