Rondae Hollis-Jefferson made his mark in the PBA as he was part of TNT Tropang Giga’s first Governors’ Cup title, which they claimed on Friday.
But the journey of the conference’s Best Import here in the Philippines was, in some way, shaped by destiny and it all started with a trip to Boracay.
TNT head coach Jojo Lastimosa said RHJ was just having a vacation in Boracay when he learned about the PBA.
“Pumunta rito ‘yan nang di ko alam,” Lastimosa recalled in a post-game conference.
“He flew over here in January and went to Boracay all by himself. [He] went back to Korea and alam niya na may tournament dito and told his agent ‘Hey, I want to go to the Philippines,’ without me knowing and somebody just called me and said ‘Hey, Rondae is here, checked-in in a hotel.”
(“He went here and I didn’t know… He flew over here in January and went to Boracay all by himself. Went back to Korea and he knew there was a tournament here and told his agent, ‘Hey, I want to go to the Philippines’ without me knowing and somebody just called me and said ‘Hey, Rondae is here, checked-in in a hotel.”‘)
Hollis-Jefferson said he was just looking for vacation places while playing in South Korea.
“We had five days off in Korea and I was looking for places to go, and I just so happened to end up in Boracay,” said the prolific import, who put up 29 points, 14 rebounds, and six assists in the series-clinching Game 6.
“Things weren’t working out in Korea so I talked to my agent and said ‘Is there anything available?’ and that’s when the PBA came about,” Hollis-Jefferson added.
The surprise arrival of RHJ gave the team a dilemma as they had Jalen Hudson as import back then. However, Lastimosa said Hollis-Jefferson had another layer in his skill set, which was his defense. On top of that, he was a stabilizing factor in the team.
“First day in practice, being an NBA vet, you couldn’t see any arrogance on his part,” said Lastimosa. “[He has a] calm demeanor, really nice, which actually brought calmness to the team.”
“His demeanor, personality, it just made the team so much better,” said Lastimosa.
For RHJ, his decision to play in the Philippines bore fruit.
“I flew here before I even had a contract. I just had faith in him (Lastimosa). Everything worked out for the best.”
But will RHJ come back again to play in the PBA?
“I would love to play here again but I don’t know what the future holds, but i would like to take a shot again in the NBA.”
—JMB, GMA Integrated News
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