PBA Governors' Cup

Hollis-Jefferson benefits from later game time as fasting TNT import regains groove

Delfin Dioquino

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Hollis-Jefferson benefits from later game time as fasting TNT import regains groove

BIG GAME. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson gives TNT a big lift with a 40-point explosion.

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Rondae Hollis-Jefferson drops 40 points despite observing Ramadan as TNT gains a 2-1 lead over Meralco in their PBA Governors' Cup semifinals series

MANILA, Philippines – A visibly energized Rondae Hollis-Jefferson proved too hot to handle for Meralco as TNT moved on the cusp of the PBA Governors’ Cup finals.

Hollis-Jefferson dropped a conference-high 40 points despite observing Ramadan to show the way in a 99-80 rout of the Bolts that gave the Tropang Giga a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five semifinals on Wednesday, March 29.

The TNT import added 13 rebounds to his sizzling performance, which made up for his shooting struggles in a 124-117 overtime loss last Sunday that allowed Meralco to equalize.

Despite flirting with a third straight triple-double with 27 points, 15 rebounds, and 9 assists in Game 2, Hollis-Jefferson shot poorly from the field, going 6-of-20 (30%), and missed crucial free throws in regulation.

In Game 3, though, the former NBA player already recorded 24 points at halftime and finished the game with a vastly improved 52% clip after making 14 of his 27 field goals.

For Tropang Giga coach Jojo Lastimosa, the change in game time spelled the difference for Hollis-Jefferson, who is fasting and does not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset throughout the entire Muslim holy month.

Hollis-Jefferson clearly looked gassed in Game 2, which started at 4:30 pm, as he played most of the match without eating or drinking.

But in Game 3, which tipped off at 5:45 pm, Hollis-Jefferson performed well from start to finish, even scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter.

“I think he ate a little bit,” said Lastimosa.

“He understood that he had a terrible game last game,” Lastimosa added. “It was out of character for Rondae.”

TNT star guard Mikey Williams said he and the rest of the locals make a conscious effort to help Hollis-Jefferson with the heavy lifting, knowing how hard it is to play in that kind of situation.

“I do not know what I would do [without food], let alone water,” Williams said. “We’re just trying to be there as best as we can and try to conserve all of his energy as best as we can.”

Hollis-Jefferson will get some sort of reprieve as the Tropang Giga play at 5:45 pm again when they try to finish off the Bolts on Friday, March 31, at the Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.