If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
That’s the question on the minds of those following the TNT Tropang Giga’s decision to bring in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson for Jalen Hudson.
With only one loss thus far in the 2023 Honda PBA Governors’ Cup, the Tropang Giga made the switch not only as they were atop the conference standings, but also with Hudson having scored 92 points in his last two games (both wins). Normally teams at the middle and even bottom of the standings switch imports to salvage their seasons or make a run to the top. But a team currently at the top and could well have been there after the elimination round? It’s uncommon but not reasonable for a proud franchise like TNT.
That Hollis-Jefferson was a former NBA player and reportedly available certainly factored into the Tropang Giga’s decision but how does this all fit into the grand scheme of things? Will it disrupt this solid run TNT is on thus far? Will team chemistry be affected?
Much of these concerns seem to be allayed at least for now, as the Tropang Giga continued their winning ways with a 138-116 win over the Blackwater Bossing.
With the score being lopsided midway through the second quarter, one would think the game turned into a shootout between teammates Hollis-Jefferson and RR Pogoy. Pogoy, though, won that battle, leading all scorers with 40 points while Hollis-Jefferson finished with 37. It was perhaps the right game for TNT and Hollis-Jefferson to get acquainted with one another game-wise and the results spoke for themselves.
The differences in the games of Hudson and that of Hollis-Jefferson were evident in the Tropang Giga’s win over the Bossing even if the results were pretty much the same. Hudson was first and foremost a scorer, one who could get buckets in a variety of ways. Nevermind if his shots weren’t falling or the defense pretty much put a blanket on him; the points would come and defenses best be prepared for it. While Hollis-Jefferson can score in bunches, he is more reliant on effort, energy, and position. He knows where he has to be and so long as his teammates can get the ball to him, all will be well. Beyond the scoring, though, Hollis-Jefferson is also involved in the other facets of the game and it opens up things for the rest of TNT.
That last part is actually telling, since the Tropang Giga aren’t short on talent. An import like Hollis-Jefferson can still contribute even when the shots are falling for the rest of TNT. Parts of the game saw the former Brooklyn Net, Toronto Raptor, and Portland Trail Blazer setting screens, crashing the boards, and making crafty passes to teammates, moving within the system but still getting his.
This isn’t a knock on Hudson, who made a good account of himself in the last six games, but at this point, it can be said that the Tropang Giga just went for what they needed at this point in the 2023 Governors’ Cup. Earlier in the conference, TNT was still shaking off some rust and Hudson himself had some efficiency issues in the beginning despite his big numbers. Now that the Tropang Giga have found their groove, it was time to bring in someone who could help them get over the proverbial hump.
One could still see moments where Hollis-Jefferson needed to catch his breath and he should get more acclimated to his surroundings with four games left in the preliminary round. Two of those games will come against the San Miguel Beermen and the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings so TNT will get to test themselves against this season’s conference champions before the playoffs come. Stacked teams are best beaten with versatile rosters and the Tropang Giga hope that Hollis-Jefferson can help them stay toe-to-toe with the giants of the league.
Whether or not the TNT Tropang Giga’s gamble of replacing Jalen Hudson with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson pays off will only be known at the end of the 2023 Honda PBA Governors’ Cup. Things are certainly off to a good start and the hope is that it will all lead to a trophy at season’s end.