Playing like MVP of old, Williams a steadying presence for Tropang Giga
One of the players Chot Reyes specifically asked for in his return to coach TNT was to have his old reliable Kelly Williams.
“The first call I made was to Kelly to see if he would be interested to come back in case I did come back,” Reyes said on Sunday night, minutes after an 83-76 victory over Magnolia that kept the Tropang Giga in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup lead at Don Honorio Ventura State University gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
“So even before I gave my final answer to management, I had to make sure that Kelly was coming in,” he added.
All the reasons why he was so adamant on having Williams back were in full display in that conquest of the Hotshots, another heavily-favored side.
Williams, a six-time PBA champion, turned in a fine performance—a throwback to his prime form that helped the TNT franchise to five titles, four of which were won alongside Reyes.
The 2008 PBA Most Valuable Player finished with 13 points and 15 boards to go with three blocks and two steals.
“[L]ike what I told coach, heading to this conference, it’s been a while since I’ve been excited to play,” he said. “And knowing that it’s coach Chot, it re-lit a fire because [his] system is proven, coach is proven. It allows us to play.”
It is worth noting that, more than his numbers that night, Williams operated in a manner that was not disruptive of his younger teammates’ ways. Cornerstones Jayson Castro, Roger Pogoy, and Troy Rosario were all productive.
“[W]hen I took a look at the squad, the talent that was here, I thought that Kelly was going to play a big role, not only with the skills, but also in the intangibles, as we would need his leadership more than anything,” said Reyes.
Williams said much of his excitement also comes from how the club’s current roster is reminiscent of the TNT squads of old.
“We still have a long way to go. But the ceiling is high. We’re seeing glimpses of it now,” he added. “It’s an exciting time but we know we have a lot of work to do in order to fulfill that potential.” INQ
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