Mikey Williams is back in the Philippines playing basketball and for the TNT Tropang Giga, that’s all that matters now.
William’s status was pretty much in question after an offseason that began with him llooking to renegotiate his deal following a stellar rookie season that saw him lead the Tropang Giga to their first Philippine Cup title in almost a decade.
The days became weeks and the weeks ballooned into months. Internal conversations spilling over to the public with all the “he said, they said” made delicate matters messy and there seemed no end in sight. That was, until the Best Player of the Conference for the 2021 Honda PBA Philippine Cup took a flight back to Manila and took to the basketball court.
Three straight victories later and one can’t be faulted for saying that winning cures everything.
A gusty win against the feisty Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and a blowout win over the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters are all well and good, but TNT’s most recent win against the upstart NorthPort Batang Pier was the statement Williams and the rest of the Tropang Giga needed to make at this point in the competition.
TNT scored the game’s first five points, but the Batang Pier bounced back to take an early lead they would hold until late in the second quarter, which was when things became a back-and-forth affair. Williams’ timely 3-pointers and overall aggressiveness made it feel that the Tropang Giga were never out of it. Little by little, TNT cut into the deficit and pushed ahead, but the outcome was not decided until Jayson Castro once again put the finishing touches (and doused any hope of a NorthPort comeback) on the Tropang Giga’s sixth win of the Philippine Cup.
Williams’ talents clearly put him head and shoulders above most, if not, all of the PBA. Some players need preseason preparations to get reacclimated with their teams and reintroduce themselves to the rigors of Philippine basketball after an offseason away from the team. In the case of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup Finals MVP, all he needed was some game reps.
Williams finished with 27 points for the second straight contest and it’s safe to say that he more or less hasn’t lost a step despite a relatively long layoff compared to his peers. Scoring has always been the 30-year-old’s calling card and his 23.0 points per game easily puts him ahead of his closest competitor, teammate RR Pogoy, by almost four points. Williams makes nearly five 3-pointers a game and that in itself should help the former member of the NBA G-League’s Sioux Falls Skyforce and Canton Charge as he works to improve his production from inside.
Some rust remains and the at times risky nature of William’s game shows itself, as his 3.3 turnovers per game can stick out like a sore thumb. While they may not matter in easy wins, close games could be won or lost on crucial miscues against bigger and defensively disciplined teams like the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings and the San Miguel Beermen. It’s those painful losses that could make it more difficult for TNT to stay within the top of the standings.
More game reps provide opportunities to fine tune or make mistakes, but him having already spent one year with the Tropang Giga certainly helped, especially as TNT is not one to have a roster of revolving parts. There’s no more feel out phase that increases the chances of errors, and even while he was sitting out, he was still getting some love from his teammates.
For the TNT Tropang Giga, order is restored with Mikey Williams in the fold. Williams’ contract situation remains in limbo even as he plays for the Tropang Giga but at this point, it seems that he can only control what he can control, which is on the court. Who’s to say how it will all end, but a more favorable outcome will be in place if Williams leads TNT to another Philippine Cup title and beyond.