By JONAS TERRADO
Kelly Williams said the return of coach Chot Reyes on the TNT sidelines has helped reinvigorate his PBA career following a brief retirement last year.
Even at 39 years old, Williams has shown flashes of his old form in the PBA Philippine Cup as evident with the performance he put Sunday, Sept. 5 when the Tropang Giga beat the Magnolia Hotshots in the battle of the league’s top two teams.
Williams scored 13 points, including a perfect 3-of-3 shooting, while adding 15 rebounds, two steals and three blocks in an all-around display that contributed to TNT’s 83-76 win at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
“It feels good to start feeling like myself again,” he said. “It’s been a while since I played a game. So, like what I told coach (Reyes) heading to this conference, it’s been a while since I’ve been excited to play.”
Reyes plucked Williams, a key mainstay in his three of his five championships during his first TNT tenure, out of retirement knowing that the one-time PBA Most Valuable Player can still be a valuable piece despite his age.
And Williams has proven why, posting 6.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 2.0 steals this conference that saw TNT win all of its first six games.
“Knowing that coach Chot was coming back, it re-lit a fire because the system is proven, coach is proven and it allows us to play,” said Williams.
“It’s definitely been a while since I’ve been in this position, I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be back in the organization and be under coach and be with these guys. Truly a great special group of guys and to be a part of this is a great blessing.”
TNT’s hot start has put them in a good spot to compete for a championship. For Williams, he does some similarities between the squad and those from past title runs.
“One of the strengths of our teams in the past, I think was the selflessness and really high character guys,” he said. “You’ll think of Jimmy Alapag, leaders like Harvey Carey. These are the veterans and they could have great, big egos but could sacrifice for each other for the good of the team.
“It gave us success and I think I see a lot of that team here. Guys willing to do whatever it takes to get the job the done and make sure we do what’s asked of us from coach and the organization.
“We’re still growing, we still have a long way to go when the ceiling is high and we see glimpses of it now. It’s an exciting time but we know we have a lot of work to do in order to fulfill the potential of what this team can do,” Williams concluded.