New TNT import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson lived up to expectations and immediately helped the Tropang Giga in scoring a convincing 138-116 beat down of Blackwater for an impressive debut in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena Wednesday night.
The National Basketball Association veteran stamped his class as he came away with 37 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists as his all-around game fitted like a glove to the Tropang Giga’s system.
Fresh from a stint in the Korean Basketball League playing for Jeonju KCC Egis, Hollis-Jefferson made everybody on the team look good — from Roger Pogoy’s 40-point explosion, Glenn Khobuntin’s double-double performance and the twin-digit productions from Mikey Williams and Calvin Oftana.
TNT coach Jojo Lastimosa described why Jalen Hudson’s replacement import is a good fit for the squad.
“He’s a willing passer. There are a lot of things that changed in our team’s dynamics,” said Lastimosa. “We’ve been moving the ball around more. People don’t understand that, but now you’ll probably see why we changed him (Hudson). He played a little of everything – rebounding, passing, defense, running the floor and communicating on defense. That’s what we expected from him.”
But Hollis-Jefferson had a more fitting description of his game.
“I’d like to look at myself as poor man’s LeBron (James). It’s about making your teammates better, making the game flow. And when the team needs me to score I’ll be able to do that as well. That’s something I tried to do,” said Hollis-Jefferson.
While his playing style pales in comparison with the NBA superstar playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, Hollis-Jefferson believes his game fits the style of play of TNT.
“I think I fit in pretty well. At the end of the day, I think the focus is on the import a lot of times. I think the import makes it more about them. Sometimes we want to overshoot, we may have guys who are open,” said Hollis-Jefferson. “I think it makes it easier they brought me in to be able to facilitate and pass the ball, they’re flowing and feeling good.”
“Now I know I can count on them and I can communicate with them. We’re all sharing the ball and we’re having fun, you see those smiles out there. I love the potential. Being in my first game, even when I’m not in the game, just seeing the guys, just communicating, it was just good to watch, I love the potential.”
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