Why Rondae Hollis-Jefferson won’t be playing for TNT Tropang Giga during the PBA Commissioner’s Cup

Dec 29, 2023

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MANILA, Philippines – For the duration of the 2023–24 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, TNT Tropang Giga will be without star Rondae Hollis–Jefferson because of a regulation that forbids replacing an import twice in the same conference.

Due to a rule that states an import cannot be replaced twice in the same conference, TNT Tropang Giga will play the remainder of the 2023–24 PBA Commissioner’s Cup without valued import Rondae Hollis–Jefferson.

Following the Tropang Giga’s replacement of Hollis-Jefferson with his older brother Rahlir, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial stated to ESPN that Hollis-Jefferson is no longer permitted to return.

Rondae took a serious tumble during last week’s East Asia Super League match in Sta., forcing TNT to bench him. Rosa, which necessitated his hospital stay.

Rahlir, however, was not permitted to suit up for TNT’s Christmas Day match against Barangay Ginebra because of the extended holiday weekend, which prevented him from finishing his prerequisites in time.

After TNT suffered an 87-80 loss to Ginebra, Coach Jojo Lastimosa conveyed that the player, who is unable to return due to a second stint on the injured list, will be replaced by his brother. The coach indicated uncertainties about the injured player’s availability for the Jan. 25 EASL game, suggesting the potential need to play with just one import. This decision might influence the team’s performance and strategic approach in the forthcoming match.

Due to illness, Rondae, who attended the Ginebra game wearing team gear, was originally substituted by Quincy Miller for TNT’s opening game of this conference. In seven games, he was averaging a league-high 33.4 points, 12.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 2.0 steals per contest.

However, Rondae’s neck injury would have prevented the Tropang Giga from playing for a long while even if the regulation hadn’t been put in place.

Lastimosa expressed concern, noting, “He’s very fragile. He cannot turn his neck. I talked to his doctor yesterday (Sunday).” Discussing the severity of spinal cord injuries, Lastimosa emphasized the need for caution. Despite the player feeling minimal pain, the coach highlighted the risks of a physical game, fearing possible reinjury. The team is opting for a conservative approach to protect Rondae’s career.

After Miller departed to play in Japan, the Tropang Giga signed 32-year-old Rahlir as their second import in the EASL.

He most recently competed in Hungary while playing for the Temple Owls in the US NCAA for four seasons. He has never played in the NBA, however he has occasionally played for a number of NBA G-League teams.

In the absence of an import, the Tropang Giga battled Ginebra, even taking a 15-point lead in the opening quarter, but ultimately faltering.

With a record of 4-5, the Tropang Giga are in a vulnerable position and will need to win one more game to guarantee their spot in the playoffs. Rahlir will be available for Lastimosa’s upcoming game on January 5 against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, the team has stated.

In his assessment of his team’s performance, Lastimosa said that they were good enough to win the match. He said that they were unable to complete the game due to the players’ fatigue, while also acknowledging the absence of experienced guard Jayson Castro. Lastimosa acknowledged the team’s effort in spite of the difficulties, noting that they undoubtedly lacked firepower. The guys gave it their all, he said, and it’s not an excuse. He said that the group needs a fight of the kind that hasn’t been seen in a while, and he was encouraged to see one tonight.

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