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Rondae Hollis-Jefferson clarifies intent of going to ROS bench: 'I was talking to the ref'

TNT's resident import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson denied that he was looking to confront someone at the Rain Or Shine bench when he went there late into their game. Joseph Sanvictores
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Rondae Hollis-Jefferson clarified that he was just talking to the referees when he suddenly went to the Rain Or Shine bench late into the team's crucial PBA Commissioner's Cup game against TNT on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Hollis-Jefferson said that he had no intent to go after an Elasto Painter and was just pleading his case to the officiating crew after his older brother Rahlir, the Tropang Giga's new PBA import, was called for a foul while trying to block Tree Treadwell with 49 seconds left in the game won by the Welcoat franchise.

"I didn't go to their bench. I was talking to the ref," Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said.

According to the TNT resident import, who was ruled out of the conference due to a neck injury he got during their Dec. 20 EASL game against Taipei Fubon, he can now roam around the arena without getting slapped with a bench decorum violation since he is now considered a "fan."

"As you all know, the last game I came to against Ginebra, I was told to get off their bench because I'm not on the roster. Therefore, I am a fan. Therefore, as a fan, I can move about where I want. I was upset at the ref's call, so I followed the ref down the sideline. The ref will tell you," Hollis-Jefferson further said.

He also said that his complaining to the referees to the point of going to the opposing team's bench was his way of standing up to his brother.

"I went to the ref one as a fan and two, that's my brother. I could be biased or whatever, but I went to the ref and said that was BS," Hollis-Jefferson said.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson says ROS bench went to him during late-game commotion

He even said that it was people at the ROS bench who confronted him when tensions escalated.

"They approached me. I get it, I'm on your side, but I'm a fan. So what's the issue? I'm a fan. I should be able to say what I want," Hollis-Jefferson continued.

"I didn't say anything about one person on that team. I didn't even look at him, but he came to me aggressive, disrespecting me as a man."

He then said that he did not do something "totally disrespectful" to the Elasto Painters contrary to what head coach Yeng Guiao said earlier in the night.

"Who was disrespectful exactly? What did he say that was disrespectful exactly? Me walking down there? Ask him how. Exactly, in what way is that disrespectful," Hollis-Jefferson further said.

"I didn't approach the bench. That's the issue and the problem. He's saying I approached the bench. I'm not approaching the bench would be me coming at one of the players like, 'Yo! What's the problem?' I did not say anything to any player. Even when they were telling me, 'Get out of here!' I didn't say anything to them."

He even claimed that he was telling Guiao to stop hurling some choice words at him.

"Once the coach said something, I looked at him and said, 'Don't do that, bro,'" Hollis-Jefferson continued, adding that Guiao can vouch for that.

Both Hollis-Jefferson and Guiao had a verbal tussle when the former dashed to the ROS bench, and the latter was heard shouting "G***!" at him and even flashed what seemed like a dirty finger gesture.

"My frustration was with the ref. I'm talking to the ref. [Have] you ever seen a coach go on a court to a ref? He's coaching and he does that out of frustration. As a fan of TNT--I'm a fan of TNT right now--and as a little brother of a person that's doing really well, I was hurt. My emotions led me to follow a referee, not your team. I had no disrespect to your team. I said nothing to your team, so for you to talk to me like that--as a man, I got kids--I would never talk to you like that. I would never say anything to you like that. I would never flip you off. I'm sure they got that on camera: him flipping me off. Let's play that back please," Hollis-Jefferson concluded.

The commotion at the Elasto Painters' bench overshadowed the other main highlights of the game like Gabe Norwood entering the 5,000 Points Club, Calvin Oftana dropping a career-high 37, and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson putting up a 50 in his PBA debut.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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