Rondae Hollis-Jefferson made a rousing return to lead TNT Tropang Giga to a 133-93 victory over Terrafirma in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Hollis-Jefferson, the Best Import awardee in the previous Governors’ Cup, was ejected in their 101-98 win over Converge, prompting him to play with fire in his eyes and vent his ire on the depleted Terrafirma squad.
The former National Basketball Association player was all business inside the court as he completed the job with still 3:45 in the third period in which he already had 37 points with the Tropang Giga enjoying a massive 26-point lead, 90-64.
He added six rebounds, six assists, a steal and a block in 29 minutes of action while Calvin Oftana registered 15 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and a steal for the Tropang Giga, who claimed their second win in three matches to forge a tie with NorthPort, Meralco and Phoenix at the second spot.
Right before the game, the Dyip were expected to face bumps on the road playing without three key players.
Terrafirma played without import Thomas de Thaey, who was nursing a groin injury, and missed the services of rookie Kenmark Cariño and ace playmaker Juami Tiongson, who was down with a flu.
Still, the Dyip were able to get off running right off the gates behind Isaac Go, who hit four three-point shots in the first half to trail by only three at the half, 55-58.
The Tropang Giga were able to turn things around quickly in the second half with a total of 41 third-quarter points as Kelly Williams and Hollis-Jefferson combined for 21 of their total output in that period.
In the third quarter, TNT shot an amazing 69.6 percent from the field, hitting 16-of-23 shots.
“I’m just being blunt, nobody can guard Rondae,” TNT coach Jojo Lastimosa said.
“Even in the World Cup, he can make his baskets. And against Terrafirma, even if he wants to score 50 he would score 50.”
“We wanted to put him back in, but he told me to give other guys opportunities.”