It’s fair to say that the rest of the PBA knows that to beat the TNT Tropang Giga, they have to stop Mikey Williams. However, that’s easier said than done.

Williams has played like a man amongst boys in two PBA seasons, and despite defenses focusing their coverages on pretty much his every move, the 2021 PBA Rookie of the Year still led the league in scoring for the 2022 Honda PBA Philippine Cup despite playing in only six games. As a result, the Tropang Giga were able to overcome a sluggish start to their repeat bid and found themselves three wins from back-to-back titles after taking the opening game in controversial fashion.

However, it seems the San Miguel Beermen have found a way to contain arguably one of the league’s best players.

After losing a winnable Game 1 of the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup Finals, the Beermen regrouped and moved on. Unlike in the previous game where only three players finished in double figures, six SMB players scored at least 11 points in a balanced effort that led to San Miguel tying the series with TNT with a 109-100 win.

Still, it was SMB’s effort on the defensive end, particularly on Williams, that may have made the difference as well.

Williams started out hot, making his first two shots enroute to five quick points in the first quarter. For the next three quarters, though, he only managed to make one more field goal. In the end, Williams had as many points as shot misses (seven) and had three assists on three turnovers. The numbers alone point to how the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup Finals MVP had to work on most possessions and with only one made 3-pointer (on seven attempts) from the first quarter. While Williams did suffer an apparent ankle injury, it also seemed like the Beermen made the necessary adjustments to hold off him and the rest of the Tropang Giga. 


The championship series is tied at 1-apiece and while it seems that things are back to square one, TNT has their work cut out for them. A hobbled Williams is certainly a concern, although he did play 30 minutes in spite of the injury. SMB could try to target him on defense and that would likely make him struggle. The Tropang Giga, though, also have other players who can step up in RR Pogoy and Jayson Castro, and they were the better 3-point shooting team in Game 2 (32 percent to 31 percent).

But Williams’ effect on TNT was apparent especially in this All-Filipino Conference.

Prior to his arrival, the Tropang Giga were middling at 3-2. When Williams returned after settling his contract, TNT seemed like a different team and went 5-1 the rest of the way. That the 30-year old needed little time to assimilate himself once again was a testament to his talent and naturally his familiarity with the system.

It might be too early to say that Game 2 of the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup Finals was a pivotal contest, but it’s fair to say that the adjustments both teams make will dictate the direction of the series. San Miguel could still follow that same defensive formula, especially if they can continue to capitalize on the inside scoring that has kept them close through both games. This comes in large part due to the solid play of CJ Perez and June Mar Fajardo, with the latter having only missed two field goal attempts in the last two games. 

Meanwhile, the Tropang Giga may be without head coach Chot Reyes, but the team has been through this kind of situation before so even the absence of their head coach wouldn’t faze them. On TNT’s part, they could even use Williams as a decoy in getting the rest of the Tropang Giga involved. Troy Rosario and Poy Erram both shot under 40 percent from the field in Game 2 and if Williams looks for their shots more than his, that could help even things out in the frontcourt.

Will Mikey Williams have off nights for the rest of the finals? Obviously not. However, the Beermen know that trying to keep Williams in check in whatever way, shape, or form will remain the formula to their success.