RHJ’s brother Rahlir steps in as TNT Commissioner’s Cup import

RHJ’s brother Rahlir steps in as TNT Commissioner’s Cup import

TNT is pinning its PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs aspirations on another RHJ — Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson.

Rahlir is tasked to finish what his brother Rondae started and bring the TNT Tropang Giga (4-5) to the quarterfinals of the season-opening conference.

Rondae sustained a neck injury in TNT’s 80-69 win over Taipei Fubon Braves in the East Asia Super League (EASL) on Nov. 20, forcing him to miss the Tropang Giga’s Christmas Day duel with Ginebra, which they lost, 78-86.

The 6-foot-6 Rahlir, who originally came in as Rondae’s partner in the EASL, is set to plunge into PBA action when the Tropang Giga resume their drive against Rain or Shine (ROS) on Jan. 5 and Phoenix nine days later.

“Si Rahlir na iyun sa Jan. 5,” TNT team manager and interim coach Jojo Lastimosa said.

Currently sharing seventh and eighth with the Elasto Painters, the Tropang Giga need to beat ROS and Phoenix to gain a trouble-free passage into the Last-8.

Rahlir’s activation, meanwhile, will effectively render Rondae ineligible for the rest of the Commissioner’s Cup even if he obtains medical clearance along the way. Per PBA rules, an original import may be reactivated only once from the injured list.

Rondae was on the injured roster (gastroenteritis) when TNT played its first game and returned to active duty for the second assignment, playing seven matches before getting sidelined anew.

Mr. Lastimosa stressed Rondae’s health is paramount.

“You don’t take those kinds of injuries lightly. Even if feeling niya wala nang pain if he turns (his neck), it’s a physical game; if it gets jarred again, he could re-injure that. So we’re going to be conservative and protect Rondae’s career,” he said. — Olmin Leyba