PBA Governors' Cup

Hollis-Jefferson downplays Brownlee matchup, zeroes in on winning first-ever title with TNT

Delfin Dioquino

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Hollis-Jefferson downplays Brownlee matchup, zeroes in on winning first-ever title with TNT

BLOCKBUSTER. Star imports collide as Justin Brownlee (left) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson face each other in the PBA for the first time.

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Rondae Hollis-Jefferson gets the better of Ginebra star Justin Brownlee, but the matchup does not appeal much to the TNT import in terms of additional motivation

MANILA, Philippines – Whether it is LeBron James or Justin Brownlee, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is only focused on the bigger picture no matter who his opponent is.

The former NBA player said he is fueled by his desire to win his first-ever professional championship as he helped propel TNT to the top of the PBA Governors’ Cup after a 114-105 win over Barangay Ginebra on Friday, March 17.

Still unbeaten in five games with the Tropang Giga, Hollis-Jefferson ended the elimination round with averages of 31 points, 12 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2.4 steals, and 1 block.

“It’s all about staying ready. I don’t do too much, I don’t leave my hotel room except for when we got practice. I work hard, pretty focused, pretty determined,” said Hollis-Jefferson.

Hollis-Jefferson did not play competitive basketball for almost an entire month as TNT took a break from its Governors’ Cup campaign due to the sixth and final window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

Unable to secure the necessary visa, Hollis-Jefferson then only managed to watch the Tropang Giga go winless in the East Asia Super League Champions Week in Japan.

But the 6-foot-6 forward hardly showed rust in his return to PBA action, steering TNT to wins over NorthPort and Ginebra as it clinched the top seed with a 10-1 record.

“I told coach, the players that I haven’t won a professional championship. So the drive, the determination to do that has kept me in a zone,” he said.

On a mission, Hollis-Jefferson got the better of three-time Best Import Justin Brownlee as he finished with all-around numbers of 34 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals.

Brownlee, on the other hand, chalked up 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists in the losing effort.

“He’s a phenomenal player, knows how to get to his spots, plays really well with his team, has a really high IQ so it was good to play against one like him. I liked it. I liked it a lot,” said Hollis-Jefferson.

The matchup with Brownlee, though, did not appeal much to Hollis-Jefferson in terms of additional motivation.

“No discredit to Justin, but I’m good. You can put LeBron in front of me, I’m good,” he said.

Armed with a twice-to-beat armor, Hollis-Jefferson and the Tropang Giga eye an immediate entry to the final four when they take on eighth seed Phoenix in the quarterfinals on March 22 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.