Filipino fans make Rondae Hollis-Jefferson feel the love this time | Inquirer Sports

Filipino fans make Rondae Hollis-Jefferson feel the love this time

/ 04:15 AM August 29, 2023

Jordan forward Rondae Hollis Jefferson Fiba World Cup

Jordan forward Rondae Hollis Jefferson (24) celebrates after a basket against New Zealand during the second half of a Basketball World Cup group C match in Manila, Philippines Monday, Aug. 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The talk after the first game of Monday’s Fiba World Cup twinbill at Mall of Asia Arena was not about New Zealand taking a hard-fought 95-87 overtime defeat, but how naturalized Jordan player and PBA champion Rondae Hollis-Jefferson put on a valiant effort that made him a fan favorite.

“It means lot, it’s an honor,” Hollis-Jefferson said before a throng of mediamen who focused on him rather than any of the winning players from the Kiwi side at the mixed zone area as he was asked about the chants from fans, some of them referring to his facial similarities with the great Kobe Bryant.


He finished in Kobe-like fashion, shooting 39 points highlighted by a stunning four-point play in the dying seconds of regulation that forced an extension. But Hollis-Jefferson and the rest of the Jordanians ran out of steam to suffer a second straight loss in Group C.


“I’m definitely not Kobe, but to feel that love, that energy, coming down the stretch hitting those big shots, God was with me, Kobe was with me, for sure.” added the former NBA player after getting the adulation that was in stark contrast during the latter part of his PBA campaign with TNT.

It was April when Hollis-Jefferson was some sort of Public Enemy No. 1, the TNT import being booed by Barangay Ginebra fans in the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals.

Barangay Ginebra netizens, though not all, were irked with some of Hollis-Jefferson’s misinterpreted arrogance compared to humble Ginebra counterpart Justin Brownlee.

Hollis-Jefferson ended up leading TNT to the title, mutual respect was built between him and Brownlee and the whole local basketball community was quick to appreciate his play.

And after a performance on the world stage, there’s a reason for local hoops lover to appreciate him more.

“It’s part of the journey,” said Hollis-Jefferson. “A lot of people didn’t know me when I first came here…now they do. So I appreciate them, and it only made me better.”

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TAGS: Fiba World Cup, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

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