It definitely helps when you do things happily.
That’s precisely the case for former PBA Most Valuable Player Kelly Williams. He showed it in his solid play with TNT on Sunday, where he helped his side remain atop the 2021 Philippine Cup standings.
The 39-year-old forward turned back the clock with his shots. He finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds as the Tropang Giga warded off fellow powerhouse Magnolia Hotshots, 83-76.
TNT extend their unbeaten streak to six.
“It feels good to start feeling like myself again,” said Williams, who also collected three blocks and two steals, moments after the victory at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
This has been the first conference of Williams since coming out of retirement earlier this year. And whatever he’s been showing on the court thus far, for him, is thanks to the kind of excitement he hasn’t felt in a while.
“It’s been a while since I played a game,” said the six-time champ, who came out of retirement earlier this year.
“So, like what I told Coach, heading to this conference, it’s been a while since I’ve been excited to play.”
And a huge part of that newfound eagerness is, of course, the return of head coach Chot Reyes into the flagship MVP Group franchise. This was the major reason for his decision to lace up his basketball sneakers once again.
“And knowing that Coach Chot was coming back, it re-lit a fire because the system is proven, the coach is proven, and it allows us to play,” he expressed. “It’s definitely been a while since I’ve been in this position.”
Reyes, meanwhile, doesn’t feel surprised to see such a game from Williams.
“No,” he said. “Actually we’ve talked before this game, or a couple of days ago, because I think there was a lot more to improve in his game. Just simple coach-player talks we have normally in our ways of working as a team.
“As I said, we got him here to be our presence in the middle, to defend other teams’ post players, to be our stalwart in rebounding. I thought he delivered fantastically tonight.
“The other things he does like his three-point shots, if he’s making them, that’s a bonus,” added Reyes. Williams shot a perfect 3-of-3 from beyond the arc in the win. “But his value is way more than just that.”
Williams and Reyes have a deep bond, having won four titles together with a Talk N Text team that’s undeniably one of the best ever. And for the latter, there are similarities between their old team and the present one.
“One of the strengths of our teams in the past, I think, was the selflessness and really high-character guys,” said the two-time Comeback Player of the Year. “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 are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, and make sure we do what’s asked of us from Coach and the organization,” added Williams, who arrived to the Texters via trade from Sta. Lucia in 2010.
Still, Williams was quick to remind that there remains lots of work to do.
“We’re still growing. We still have a long way to go when the ceiling is high and we see glimpses of it now,” he said.
“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.”