Terrafirma coach Johnedel Cardel has a unique description of import Jordan Williams at the early stages of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup, especially after the Dyip picked up a rare win on Saturday night.
“Magaling to pero hindi swapang (He’s good, but not a selfish player),” Cardel said during a 96-88 upset victory over the Meralco Bolts at Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Williams finished with 29 points, with the bulk of that output coming in the first half, which set the tone for a performance that eventually resulted in Terrafirma ending seven straight losses against Meralco.
And getting backstopped by Juami Tiongson, who fired a game-high 30 points, Eric Camson and Alex Cabagnot during the contest is a good reason to believe the Dyip can produce at least a solid run if Williams and the locals can complement each other.
“I told our players to be ready, then I told Jordan that he needs the help of the locals,” Cardel continued in Filipino. “And what’s good about him is that he gives confidence to his teammates.”
Tiongson, whose output was a point short of his career high, admitted as much, saying his offensive outburst was a result of the confidence shown in him by Williams and his teammates.
“Kuya Alex (Cabagnot), Jordan (Williams), Eric (Camson), they were all telling me ‘be open, we will look for you,’” Tiongson said.
Williams has left quite a strong impression after Terrafirma’s split of the first two games of the 47th season’s final conference.
The 30-year-old Williams, a product of North Texas in the US NCAA Division I who spent most of his pro career in Mexico along with short stints in England and Canada, impressed Cardel with his on-court skills—to the point that the Terrafirma coach compared the import to a National Basketball Association legend generally considered to be the greatest baller of all time.
“When he arrived in the Philippines for the first time, I told myself that he doesn’t act like an import,” Cardel said. “He’s very soft-spoken and down to earth person. I saw his videos and he plays like his name. I told him ‘You play like [Michael] Jordan.’”
This Jordan went off for 46 points in his PBA debut against Converge last Thursday, making 30 during the first half before Terrafirma’s performance took a huge nosedive after the break and lost, 130-115.
It was the same scenario in Antipolo as Williams had 21 in the first 24 minutes that led to a 52-50 lead for the Dyip entering the locker room. But Tiongson, perhaps the team’s top local, led a fourth quarter runaway before Camson made key plays on both ends that scuttled the Bolts’ late comeback bid.
It was only Terrafirma’s fourth win in 34 games since a three-game winning run midway in the 2021 Philippine Cup.
Meralco, on the other hand, was denied of a 3-0 start and the solo lead after a rough performance from the onset.
The Bolts struggled from the field, including a 3-of-22 shooting from rainbow country.
Import KJ McDaniels’ 29 points and 19 rebounds didn’t result in a win for the Bolts, who trailed by a high of 17 after Tiongson’s three made it 86-69 in the fourth.
Jonathon Simmons scored 33 points as NLEX defeated NorthPort, 121-112, to climb in a share of the lead with two others—Converge and TNT—following its second win in as many matches.
He also had eight assists and five assists as he continues to focus on his PBA stint amid his situation in which the Road Warriors management is working on keeping him after the four-game stint the two sides agreed on.
Simmons has been reaching offers to play once more in China, but NLEX is hopeful that the ex-NBA player can stay on.