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MANILA, Philippines — Strong Group team manager Jacob Lao blasted embattled guard Mikey Williams for reneging on his commitment to join the squad as it prepares for the 33rd Dubai International Basketball Championship.
Expected to join practice at the Urdaneta Village in Makati on Wednesday, January 10, Williams was a no-show, prompting a lengthy rant from the team official.
“At first, he agreed to the price. Then he asked for a specific time frame for his arrival. However, he just didn’t show up at our practice when everybody was expecting him to, including former NBA stars and starters,” Lao said in a statement released to the media.
“Now, he is not even answering our calls. We have no choice but to look for other options,” he added.
According to head coach Charles Tiu, the shifty scorer was his first choice as he assembled the team that will play in the 33rd Dubai International Basketball Championship, which is now bannered by former NBA star Dwight Howard.
Williams will be replaced by another guard, former Gilas Pilipinas player Jordan Heading, who is set to join practice on Thursday, January 11.
The Fil-Am guard has been at an impasse with the Tropang Giga since the franchise terminated his contract last November.
Williams, who was the fourth overall pick in 2021, led TNT to a championship and ended up runner-up to Scottie Thompson to the PBA Most Valuable Player race during his rookie season.
He then signed a three-year extension and helped lead TNT to its first Governors’ Cup title in franchise history, earning Finals MVP along the way.
Lao, who is also the team manager of the Converge FiberXers, added that this is his first instance of non-commitment from a player.
“Now, I understand the management of the team he played for before.”
Along with eight-time NBA All-Star Howard, the Strong Group team is led by former Gilas Pilipinas naturalized center Andray Blatche and ex-Oklahoma City Thunder guard Andre Roberson.
Other local talent include UAAP MVP Kevin Quiambao, UP guard JD Cagulangan, and Mackenzie Moore, among others.
Tiu earlier told media that Williams was working on a clearance from TNT.
“So we just decided to move on… but it is what it is, you know, we’ll find ways to win without him,” said Tiu.
“But you know, he would have been a great addition for it.” — Rappler.com