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TNT to activate Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson in January as bro Rondae ruled out for rest of PBA Comm's Cup

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is now out for the rest of the PBA Commissioner's Cup. Joseph Sanvictores
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY—TNT decided with finality to activate Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson for the rest of the PBA Commissioner's Cup and sit out younger brother Rondae PBA-wise following his injury during their EASL game against Taipei Fubon.

On Monday night, Tropang Giga head coach Jojo Lastimosa said that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's situation is "fragile" enough for them to pull the plug on him at least on the PBA side of things.

"It's very fragile. He cannot turn his neck, and I talked to the doctor yesterday. Yung injury na spinal cord na ganun, you don't take that lightly. Even if feel niya, wala nang pain, it's a physical game. He could get jarred again and reinjure that neck. We are going the conservative part and protecting Rondae's career," Lastimosa said.

The former NBA veteran and Asian Games silver medalist fell awkwardly with 2:45 left in the TNT-Taipei Fubon game at the City of Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Sports Complex after a collision with Chen Fan Po-Yen.

Hollis-Jefferson was slow to get up and had to be carried by his teammates to the Tropang Giga bench.

Moments later, he was rushed to the hospital, where the extent of his pain was revealed.

PBA rules on import change prompts TNT to go with Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson

Although in street clothes, Hollis-Jefferson was in attendance for TNT's Christmas night clash against Ginebra at the Smart Araneta Coliseum here along with Rahlir.

Assistant coach Josh Reyes said on Wednesday night right after the Tropang Giga's win against the Braves that they were considering activating Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson for the game against the Gin Kings.

However, the consequences of the PBA's import change rules made it difficult for it to happen, and TNT ultimately decided to go all-Filipino on Christmas night.

After some clarifications, the team finally decided to give the import change the green light even if it meant Rondae Hollis-Jefferson could not return anymore for the rest of the conference.

"Hindi na pwedeng bumalik kasi second time na siyang nagka-injury, so we're putting in Rahlir, his brother," Lastimosa continued.

According to PBA rules, the original import, in this case Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, can be reactivated only once right after he was temporarily replaced and sent to the injured list.

If the original import gets replaced again, the said player cannot rejoin the team anymore for the rest of the conference.

Quincy Miller replaced Hollis-Jefferson for the Tropang Giga's Nov. 5 season opener against the Magnolia Hotshots after the latter suffered gastroenteritis that also forced him to sit out their EASL game against the Chiba Jets on Nov. 1.

Hollis-Jefferson made his season debut in TNT's second PBA Commissioner's Cup game and remained with the team until now.

Hollis-Jefferson's absence was missed especially in the endgame as TNT fizzled in the fourth quarter and bowed to Ginebra.

"At the end of the day, it's still a lost game. I thought we played well enough to win that game, and hindi lang namin maitawid dahil puro pagod na mga players namin. We lacked the firepower," Lastimosa further said.

Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson will make his PBA debut on Jan. 5 when the Tropang Giga take on the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters in a game that could decide which team will take the seventh seed at least in the quarterfinals should both of them qualify.

TNT will finish its elimination round campaign on Jan. 14 against Phoenix in another must-win game if they want to make the quarterfinals outright.

Meanwhile, the PBA legend clarified that the EASL rules for world imports are different, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson remains eligible as one of the Tropang Giga's imports for the home-and-away league.

Despite that, Lastimosa bared that Hollis-Jefferson's status for TNT's next EASL game against Rhenz Abando and Anyang at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig is also up in the air.

"Even the Jan. [24] EASL game namin, baka hindi pa sigurado si Rondae na makabalik, so we might have to play one import," Lastimosa said.

Miller already left the Tropang Giga and joined AJ Edu and the Toyama Grouses in the Japan B.League as they now look to get out of the relegation zone.

That leaves TNT with only Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson as its remaining import for now should his younger brother Rondae remains sidelined barring a late signing to shore up their EASL roster.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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