TNT needs both Kelly Williams and Poy Erram if it wants to beat San Miguel and reach the PBA Philippine Cup finals.
That is the realization of head coach Chot Reyes as the Tropang Giga nailed a 3-2 semifinals lead over the Beermen following a 110-90 romp that saw the two big men return to the lineup.
Williams suited up for TNT after missing the series' first four games due to health and safety protocols, while Erram saw action again after leaving Game 4 in the first half as he slammed his head on the floor.
"That we could not compete with them without Kelly and Poy," said Reyes when asked what he learned from their 90-116 loss in Game 4.
"It is hard enough to compete minus one of our big guys. Now, [we] lose our two big guys, and couple that with the fact that we came out flat, that is the learning," added the multi-titled mentor.
Erram and Williams were both uncertain to play in Game 5 given their individual circumstances.
Williams had to yield a negative result from the mandatory antigen test in the morning of Game 5.
Erram, meanwhile, still had to get used to the protective mask he has been prescribed to wear to shield the fractured cheekbone he sustained from the freak accident in Game 4.
The two ultimately hurdled their personal problems.
Named to the starting lineup, Williams delivered 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists, while Erram came off the bench and contributed 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 block.
They also played pivotal roles in limiting the production of San Miguel big men June Mar Fajardo and Mo Tautuaa.
"[J]ust to have that extra body, that extra big guy to battle June Mar and Mo Tautuaa, they've been giving us huge problems throughout the series, so having that extra big man was very big," Reyes said of Williams.
"Shout out to the courage that Poy is showing. Putting his body, and quite literally, his face on the line."
"They came out and they gave us huge minutes, even in less than ideal circumstances," Reyes added.
Now almost at full strength, the Tropang Giga will go for the killer blow in Game 6 on Friday, October 15. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.