Rondae Hollis-Jefferson hears the jeers but keeps locked in on task at hand
There’s no question that TNT import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is public enemy No. 1 in the eyes of Barangay Ginebra fans through two games of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup Finals.
The boo birds have been out since the championship series began, but Hollis-Jefferson’s response shows that he’s unperturbed by their sentiments.
“I love them, too,” Hollis-Jefferson said.
Ginebra fans have been far from pleased with what they’ve been hearing from Hollis-Jefferson’s interviews with the media since he came in to replace Jalen Hudson.
But the big one that upset the multiple of Barangay supporters was Hollis-Jefferson’s comment on Justin Brownlee following TNT’s win over Ginebra in the eliminations.
“No discredit to Justin, but I’m good. You can put LeBron in front of me, I’m good,” he said after their initial meeting last March 17 at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City which saw TNT winning, 114-105, and taking top spot going into the playoffs.
Brownlee offered no retort over Hollis-Jefferson’s remarks, though the latter, after that same game and before the Finals got underway, sang praises for the the long-time Ginebra reinforcement’s play.
Getting jeered is one of the elements Hollis-Jefferson and the Tropang Giga are hoping to shake off as they aim to dislodge the Gin Kings, who have reigned in the season-ending conference for the past two editions.
“I’m mentally ready at whatever’s thrown at us,” said Hollis-Jefferson. “I feel like we got a great group of guys who are willing to go the distance and to accomplish what we are asked of us to accomplish.
“At the end of the day, that’s all what we have to do, to give our all. And the outcome will be the outcome. No matter what as long as we leave it all on the floor, I’m okay with it,” added the reinforcement who has one thing that motivates him.
The 28-year-old has never won a championship in his globetrotting pro career that started in 2015 when the Brooklyn Nets selected him 23rd overall in the NBA Draft.
He made four playoff appearances with the Nets, Toronto Raptors and Portland Trailblazers, but never got past the conference semifinals.
A championship also eluded him at Turkish side Besiktas and Puerto Rican club Atleticos de San German before the TNT gig came. He hopes to get the ultimate reward in Manila.
“I’m definitely passionate about it [and] extremely locked in,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “This is the dream of my whole life, to win a professional championship. The work didn’t start coming into the PBA, it started when I was five years old.
“So I feel like, I’m well prepared, my mindset. Everything I’ve been through has shaped me to be in this position.”