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'Kobe Bryant clone' hailed as missing piece for Jordan at Asian Games

Former NBA player Rondae-Hollis Jefferson is on the Jordan team at the Asian Games
— Hangzhou (China) (AFP)

Former Brooklyn Nets starter Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was hailed as the "missing piece" for Jordan at the Asian Games on Thursday, with the "Kobe Bryant clone" hitting a game-high 17 points against Bahrain.

The American was naturalised in time to play for his adopted homeland at the World Cup last month, where his 39-point barrage against New Zealand sparked chants of "Kobe, Kobe, Kobe" from the crowd in Manila.

US media dubbed him a "Kobe Bryant clone", not only for his playing style but also because he wore the same number 24 shirt that the late Bryant sported for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Some say that the 28-year-old even looks like Bryant.

"I think he was the missing piece for our team," said center Ahmad Al-Dwairi after Hollis-Jefferson starred with a 17 points, four rebounds and two assists to help Jordan beat Bahrain 84-60 in a group game in Hangzhou.

"We know his career, we can talk about his career, he's played at the highest level.

"So we knew that he would be good for our team, not only in offence, he's also one of the best defenders in our team.

"He's impacting the whole team, leading the team, talking to each player outside the court, inside the court. So he's doing everything for the team," he added.

A 2015 first-round draft pick, Hollis-Jefferson spent six years in the NBA, mostly with the Nets but also with the Toronto Raptors and Portland Trail Blazers.

He moved overseas in 2021 to ply his trade in the Turkish, Puerto Rican and Philippine leagues over the past two seasons.

Hollis-Jefferson said he was determined to help Jordan win gold.

"They gave me a chance (to become naturalised) and I want to help them win. I want to help them get a gold medal," he said.

"I love it, I love the fans coming here to show support, the atmosphere is amazing," he added of Hangzhou. "They love basketball, and I'm appreciative."

Jordan next play the Philippines on Saturday.