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PBA: TNT going all-Filipino in Christmas clash vs Ginebra

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is out for TNT's crucial Christmas game against Ginebra following his bad fall in the EASL. EASL (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will not suit up for TNT when it takes on Ginebra in a rare Monday night basketball in the PBA Commissioner's Cup right on Christmas Day at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

Jojo Lastimosa, the Tropang Giga's designated PBA coach, revealed that Hollis-Jefferson was not cleared to play as he is still recovering from the bad fall he had late into their EASL battle against the Taipei Fubon Braves in Sta. Rosa City on Wednesday night.

"Rondae is still under evaluation so [he's] day to day. [We're] still hoping he can return. We are playing all-Pinoy," Lastimosa, also TNT's team manager, said through the PBA website on Christmas Eve.

Josh Reyes, the PLDT franchise's EASL coach, bared following their win against Taipei Fubon that activating Hollis-Jefferson's older brother Rahlir for the PBA Christmas game was an option.

However, with the league's rules on import changes, the Tropang Giga eventually decided not to go for it in hopes of still having Rondae Hollis-Jefferson for more crucial games ahead.

This means Calvin Oftana, the Tropang Giga's leading local scorer, will have to carry an extra load in leading them past the Gin Kings in a crucial battle at 6:30 p.m. on Christmas night with their hopes of making the Top 4 at stake, which would give them a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.

A win by Ginebra assures them that they will end the year in fourth place whether solely in the said position or still tied with San Miguel, which will take on Phoenix in the first game at 4 p.m.

However, a four-way tie for fourth to seventh places could ensue after the Christmas Day games if the Fuel Masters and the Tropang Giga emerge victorious.

TNT might not afford to lose as a defeat would drop them to a tie with streaking Rain Or Shine for seventh and eighth places at 4-5.

NLEX is just one game outside the quarterfinal berths at 3-6, but they could sneak into the playoffs or at least force a knockout game for the eighth seed if it wins its last two games and either TNT or ROS stumbles in the end.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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