Rondae Hollis-Jefferson shrugged off the heightened physicality during the crucial Game 5 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals, Wednesday night.
Bodies were sprawling as both TNT and Ginebra engaged in a nip-and-tuck affair the rest of the match, with the reigning Best Import himself receiving aggressive defense that saw multiple Kings close out on him at times.
That hardly bothered him, though, as he finished with 32 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists to help the Tropang Giga move on the cusp of the title.
Hollis-Jefferson said that he’s been used to that kind of play ever since, and offered that it may have done more harm than good to their foes.
“I’m good,” he told reporters moments after their 104-95 victory at the SMART Araneta Coliseum. “They played a lot more physical today – a lot of bumping and banging. But that’s how I grew up playing. I love it.
“If anything, it’s kind of taking away from their focus, bumping me so much. So keep bumping me. I love it,” he furthered.
Hollis-Jefferson was one of those who hit the ground during the course of the game, and even suffered inadvertent hits to the face about twice.
In fact, he politely asked for camera lights to be turned off before proceeding with the interview, apparently feeling the effects of the hits he absorbed.
But as he’s always said, the 28-year-old forward is all good, proud of how the entire TNT reversed the game in their favor in the second half.
The Tropa were down 15 in the second period but woke up after the break, with ‘RHJ’ leading the way as he scored 20 of his points in the final two quarters.
“It was about being focused,” he said. “The guys knew we need to stay locked in, we need to stay resilient, poised, and we need to be more aggressive.
“Starting that first half, they were outhustling, they were playing more aggressively like they wanted to win, and we just had to take our time, take a deep breath, and relax. We had to relax and guys just zoned in.
“We started picking up the pressure, we started getting stops, and everything fell into place,” he added as they ended the game with eight straight points.
Their efforts have now led to an opportunity of clinching the crown on Friday and the time leading up to it, said Hollis-Jefferson, will be crucial.
“It’s about coming in… first, it’s about getting rest tonight – getting the proper rest, taking care of your bodies, doing what you need to do to feel as close to 100 as possible,” said the Pennsylvania native.
“Then we focus on practice tomorrow, little things that we might have made mistakes on. I myself had a few turnovers that I shouldn’t have had. So I’ll look at the film and watch how I could just take my time, pause for a second, then we’ll watch their schemes and some of the things they might be thinking about doing or adding,” he continued.
“It’s all about kind of taking that step to kind of put your mind in advanced mode, like, they might adjust to this, they might do this a little differently, this was working so they might stay with that. So just thinking about those little things.”
The 2023 PBA Governors Cup Finals is live-streamed on SMART Sports.