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MANILA, Philippines – If Chot Reyes can overcome adversity, TNT has no excuse not to do the same.
Kelly Williams said the rest of the Tropang Giga take after Reyes as they closed in on defending their PBA Philippine Cup throne with a 102-93 win over San Miguel in Game 5 of the finals on Wednesday, August 31, despite the exit of Jayson Castro.
The veteran guard suffered a sprained ankle early in the third quarter and never returned, but TNT pulled through to grab a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven championship affair.
“Coach has trained us for moments like this,” Williams said.
“When you see your coach going through the ridicule and the shit in the media and just throughout the Philippines, with the way he handled it, we have no excuse to look at anything and put our heads down.”
Reyes has been at the center of a full-blown hatefest from fans, who want him removed from his position as Gilas Pilipinas head coach.
The fans took their vitriol towards Reyes to the next level as they booed him when the Philippines hosted Saudi Arabia at the Mall of Asia Arena in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup last Monday.
Despite the jeers, Reyes guided the Filipinos to an 84-46 mauling of the Saudis.
And now, Reyes is on the cusp of capturing his 10th PBA crown, which will put him at solo fourth in the all-time list of most championships won by a coach behind Tim Cone (24), Baby Dalupan (15), and Norman Black (11).
“Coach has been saying it all year. I think this team is built for adversity,” said Williams.
Williams particularly rose to the occasion as he turned back the hands of time by delivering a conference-high 21 points on an ultra-efficient 4-of-6 clip from three-point land.
His 21-point outing, according to PBA chief statistician Fidel Mangonon, is Williams’ most in a playoff game in five years – an impressive feat for a 40-year-old who already retired from the league in 2020 before he decided to come back.
“It is pretty ridiculous, right? Less than two years ago, I was sitting on my couch eating Doritos,” Williams said.
“But I’ve said it, it is no question that if [coach Chot] had not come back, I would not have. I’m in no better position and situation than to be under coach Chot.”
Williams and the Tropang Giga go for the kill against the Beermen in the all-important Game 6 on Friday, September 2, at the Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com