Mendoza: Williams’ winning ways

·2 min read

HOW can you defeat a team whose rookie is its top performer?

That could only mean that aside from the team’s veterans already habitually doing serious damage on the opposition, it has a rookie routinely adding to the woes of its rivals.

That has been the boon TNT Tropang Giga had been enjoying since the 43rd PBA Philippine Cup began last July 16, 2021.

I refer to Mikey Williams, the TNT rookie with credentials comparable to that of an established mainstay in Asia’s first play-for-pay loop.

At 30 years old, Williams is the oldest newbie ever to don a PBA jersey since the loop’s birth in April 1975.

He was a mere No. 4 in the annual Draft pick. But unknown to many, he was a find worthier than gold.

Williams was a star guard at Cal State in Fullerton, California when his services were tapped by Chot Reyes, the comeback coach of TNT.

As quickly as Tom Cruise would cheat death in “Mission Impossible” flicks, Williams showed the stuff that he’s made of right off the starting gates.

Unfurling his all-around versatility—shooting threes, cutting the lane with a plethora of moves, dishing off precise kick-out passes—Williams became an instant rotation fixture and helped power TNT to the top of the elimination round.

He starred in almost all of TNT’s conquests of two of San Miguel Corp.’s (SMC) blue-chip squads, first dethroning Ginebra San Miguel in the quarterfinals before dismissing five-time All-Filipino champion San Miguel Beer in a Game 7 semi-final knockout.

And in the just-ended, fight-for-four Finals against Magnolia, SMC’s last bet to the PHL Cup race, Williams waxed hot in practically every game as he led Tropang Giga to a crushing 4-1, crown-clinching victory over the thoroughly outclassed Hotshots to end TNT’s six-year title drought.

With his stellar performance, Williams was the runaway Finals MVP after again scoring in twin digits (24 points) in TNT’s 94-79 Game 5 triumph even as he went zero in the first quarter.

Not only did Williams help avenge TNT’s 2020 Finals loss to Ginebra last year but, more importantly, he keyed coach Reyes’ ninth title. It was also Chot’s sixth All-Filipino crown, tying him with the late Baby Dalupan of Crispa.

If Williams proceeds to emerge this season’s MVP, he’ll become only the second rookie to do so after Benjie Paras in 1989.

Seemingly, he is on course.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting