MANILA, Philippines – When Gilas Pilipinas calls, Kelly Williams is always there to answer.
Williams accepted the invitation to join the pool for the sixth and final window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers as the national team took a major blow to its frontline with the untimely absence of several big men.
Head coach Chot Reyes ruled out Kai Sotto for the February window due to his non-commitment, while Japeth Aguilar and Angelo Kouame are sidelined by knee injuries.
“Chot knows that I’m always ready for him if he needs me,” said Williams, who will replace Kouame in the pool. “With Japeth and Kai out and obviously big Ange, coach is kind of scrambling. Let us see what happens.”
Now 41 years old, Williams is the oldest player in Gilas Pilipinas’ pool.
But he remains a major contributor as the starting center for TNT, which has won six of its first seven games in the PBA Governors’ Cup for the top spot.
In those seven games, the former league MVP averaged 8.4 points, 6 rebounds, and 1.3 assists.
“I’m grateful that my talents and my abilities are being appreciated. Since I’ve been here, a lot of emphasis is put on how old a player is despite how effective he is playing,” said Williams.
“To be appreciated at 41 and obviously to be able to still play at a high level, for myself personally, it is nice to be appreciated.”
Although he has no expectations of making the lineup, Williams welcomes the opportunity of playing in the pair of home games against Lebanon and Jordan on February 24 and 27, respectively, at the Philippine Arena.
Williams last donned the national colors in the first window, where he averaged 2.5 points and 4 rebounds.
“If that is what [Chot] needs me to do, then I’ll be there,” said Williams.
“Until then, we’ll just see. It is always a great honor to just be considered amongst the greatest in the Philippines. If I can be able to suit up alongside those guys and alongside those names, then awesome.” – Rappler.com
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