May 25, 2024

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's perspective after Jordan's defeat in Asian Games finals is beautiful

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
POC
Richard Hollis-Jefferson had a blank look on his face on the bench as Gilas Pilipinas whooped it up on the floor after winning the gold medal in the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China on Friday.

But no one could claim that he didn't lay everything on the court for Jordan. He only got seven seconds of rest. And that's when the outcome was already settled. He battled to the very end.

Even though they felt short, 80-70, Hollis-Jefferson had nothing to be embarrassed about. Even before the game, he knew he would have to push like he never pushed before.

"I told them (teammates) before the game that I'm willing to pass out on the court. I wanted to win, that's what it's about," said the former NBA player after the game. "We worked so hard to get here. We came up short but I'm proud of my guys."

RHJ finished with a game-high 24 points on top of 12 rebounds and five assists in another yeoman's job. He would've swept the floor if coach Wesam Al-Sous, a former Jordan star, asked him to. He kept Jordan in the game in the second quarter to keep the game close when Gilas Pilipinas was threatening to break it wide open.

He tried to do the same in the second half. He willed his way to the paint and played tough on the defensive end. He already led Jordan to victory over Gilas Pilipinas in the group stage. But this time, Justin Brownlee and company were just too much. Jordan also had a bad shooting night with a 26% clip, which Gilas Pilipinas "took advantage" of, according to coach Tim Cone.

The 28-year-old Hollis-Jefferson offered no excuses. He didn't throw anyone under the bus. After all, Jordan achieved several milestones in the tournament with him leading the charge. Jordan made it to the gold medal match of the Asian Games for the first time and advanced to the semifinals for only the third time. 

But for RHJ, it's also much bigger than basketball.

"I'm proud of the country, they came together. (I'm proud of) the support we had, from boxing, archery, princesses, you name it, we had them here. So the support, the love, to see the country come together it's what it's about. It's about uniting people through the game of basketball, which we all love," said Hollis-Jefferson. "I'm happy I could be a part of it."

It's just the second tournament of the Pennsylvania native, who became a naturalized player last July, for Jordan after the FIBA World Cup. When asked about suiting up again, RHJ said he's not closing his doors.

"At the end of the day, I'm a competitor. If Jordan wants me back, (I'll play). I have a lot of respect for them. We'll see. We can't predict the future." 

Hollis-Jefferson will return to the Philippines to prepare for the PBA Commissioner's Cup with the TNT Katropa, whom he led to the title last season.

(With reports from Carlo Pamintuan, One Sports)