Coach Jojo Lastimosa bared a “now it can be told” story of how Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s decision to go to one of the country’s scenic beaches altered the course of TNT’s eventual run to the PBA Governors’ Cup crown.
“He flew over here in January and went to Boracay by himself,” Lastimosa said after the Tropang Giga, behind Hollis-Jefferson’s presence, captured the season-ending title with a 97-93 win over Barangay Ginebra on Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Initially, the intention of Hollis-Jefferson was to spend a few days in Boracay for some rest and relaxation, to take his mind away from a frustrating stint with South Korean club Jeonju KCC Egis.
But upon learning that the PBA season was ongoing, Hollis-Jefferson weighed if a move could be possible.
“Things weren’t working out in Korea so I was like…I talked to my agent and if there’s anything else available,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “And then the PBA thing kind of came about.”
Having a chance to have Hollis-Jefferson, who played for the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA, is something TNT couldn’t pass up. But there was one problem.
The Tropang Giga had been doing well to open the conference by claiming five of its first six games with original import Jalen Hudson.
Hudson was no slouch, particularly on the offensive side with averages of 33.8 points on 51-percent shooting. He was one of six imports this season to score at least 50, producing 56 in TNT’s win over Converge last Feb. 8.
He played his last game four days later that saw TNT defeating Terrafirma, with Hudson scoring 36 in the process before the Tropang Giga decided to pull the trigger.
Two months later, Lastimosa and TNT are glad they made the move.
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