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Rondae Hollis-Jefferson unfazed by fasting sacrifice during PBA playoffs: 'Religion comes before sports'

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson prioritizes his faith even if he is in the PBA Governors' Cup Finals. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—The Christians are not the only ones who are observing something this April.

The Islamic community is currently observing Ramadan, in which they have to fast during the daytime, that is, the Muslim people are not allowed to eat anything while the sun is up.

However, it came at an interesting time for TNT import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson as Ramadan, which began on March 23, coincides with the PBA Governors' Cup playoffs, raising concerns about whether he can keep up match fitness-wise as his club entered the knockout phase as the top seed.

While it looked like the case when he missed clutch free throws in Game 2 of the Tropang Giga's semifinal series against the Meralco Bolts that cost them the win, the former NBA veteran bounced back with back-to-back 40-point explosions that helped the PLDT franchise eliminate the Meralco side and set a finals date with Barangay Ginebra.

According to Hollis-Jefferson, he is already accustomed to the situation.

"It's a mindset and a mentality. I've been doing it for a while, so being able to fast and still give your all is something that became natural to me," Hollis-Jefferson said. "I don't look at it as a challenge. I just look at it as another day."

TNT coach Jojo Lastimosa vouched what his import said, saying, "He knows how to handle it. He's been doing that for the past four years, so it doesn't really affect him."

Hollis-Jefferson added that he is not feeling any regret about having to fast despite playing playoff basketball, saying that faith comes first.

"Religion comes before any sport. Believing in God comes before that. At the end of the day, without God, none of this is possible, and I'm a firm believer. I am who I am because of God, so I'm grateful," Hollis-Jefferson further said.

All the games of the PBA Governors' Cup Finals between the Tropang Giga and the Gin Kings will happen at the tail end of Ramadan, so Hollis-Jefferson has to continue his religious tradition.

However, all the games will happen as early as 5:45 p.m. beginning Easter Sunday—which will have a later Game 1 tip-off at 6 p.m.—just in time for the sunset, so Hollis-Jefferson gets to eat at least a light meal either pre-game or during halftime to keep him energized for the game.

In a previous interview, Lastimosa said that having to play night games would be advantageous for TNT as Hollis-Jefferson would be fit enough diet-wise.

If the finals reach the full length, however, Game 7 is scheduled on April 23, the day after Ramadan ends, so he gets the luxury of returning to his normal eating habits on the said day.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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