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Hollis-Jefferson debut hangs in limbo

Games Wednesday:

(Mall of Asia Arena)

3 p.m. – Blackwater vs TNT

5:45 p.m. – NorthPort vs San Miguel

The highly-anticipated debut of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson for TNT hangs in balance barely a day before the Tropang Giga collide with Blackwater in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

TNT head coach Jojo Lastimosa confirmed to Daily Tribune that they have already submitted Hollis-Jefferson’s name to the Commissioner’s Office, making him their official reinforcement when they tackle the Bossing in the first game at 3 p.m.

But whether he can see action or not is a different story as the former National Basketball Association standout has yet to receive his Letter of Clearance from the International Basketball Federation.

Lastimosa said if the LOC will not be released before tip-off, they will have no choice but to play without an import since their previous reinforcement in Jalen Hudson is nursing a foot injury.

“He (Hollis-Jefferson) is already here as early as Saturday,” Lastimosa said in a telephone interview.

“Jalen is also still here but we already inserted Rondae into the lineup since Jalen cannot play because of a hurting foot.”

“If the clearance will not be released by Wednesday, then we’ll play with an all-Filipino lineup.”

Hudson has been an efficient performer for the Tropang Giga as he averaged 33.83 points, 9.33 rebounds and 4.17 assists per game. He erupted for 56 points in a 128-122 victory over Converge last week before crashing with a foot injury.

The 6-foot-5 Hollis-Jefferson is coming in with sterling credentials.

Drafted with the 23rd overall pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2015 NBA Draft, Hollis-Jefferson is an undersized forward who plays tough, rugged defense.

He saw action for the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors before moving back to the Blazers on a 10-day contract.

His best season was in 2017-2018 in which he averaged 13.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists for the Nets team bannered by D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert.

After his second stint for the Blazers, he played in Turkey and Puerto Rico before landing in South Korean in which he posted 10.3 points and 3.9 rebounds for the Jeonju KCC Egis in the Korean Basketball League.

With Hollis-Jefferson patrolling the paint, the Tropang Giga can fill the gaping hole at the middle created by the absence of starting center Poy Erram, who was sidelined by a knee injury.

TNT is on a three-game winning streak and shares the lead with San Miguel Beer and Converge, all of them carrying a 5-1 win-loss record.

Meanwhile, the Beermen aim to get back at the winning track as they battle NorthPort in the second game at 5:45 p.m.

San Miguel roared with five straight wins but suffered a crushing 107-103 loss to Converge over the weekend in which six-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo was held to just seven points.

The 6-foot-9 Fajardo was only able to attempt four times from the field and made three of them while converting only one of his six shots from the free throw line. He also pulled down 10 rebounds but greatly struggled against Converge’s collapsing defense.

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