PBA: Coach Chot, former teammates pay tribute to Machine Gun Kelly [Williams] on retirement

Published September 8, 2020, 1:06 PM

by Jonas Terrado

Kelly Williams, fourth from left, won three PBA championships during Chot Reyes’ tenure as TNT coach. (PBA Images)

Former coach Chot Reyes was among those who paid tribute to Kelly Williams after the 2008 PBA Most Valuable Player and two-time Comeback Player of the Year announced his retirement on Monday.

Reyes is responsible for bringing Williams, who was born and raised in Detroit to an American father and Filipina mother, over to the country to try out for the national team in 2005. 

Reyes and Williams eventually joined forces with the national squad in the 2007 FIBA Asia Championship and at Talk ’N Text where they won three PBA championships.

TNT’s Kelly Williams scores a dunk over Barangay Ginebra’s Ronald Tubid during a 2011 PBA Governors’ Cup game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. (PBA Images)

Williams mentioned Reyes in his lengthy social media post, saying: “Coach Chot, can’t thank you enough for placing your bet on a skinny no-name kid from Detroit back in (2005). I am indebted to you.”

“You’re right, neither of us knew, on that day in 2005, what a great career you would have,” Reyes said in response to Williams’ post. “But I was sure of one thing — I had to bring you to the (Philippines). 

“Our road has not been smooth, but we always looked out for each other. And I hope I held up my end of the bargain when I promised your Mom (Andrea Castro) that this won’t be a move you’d regret,” added Reyes.

Williams wound up playing for the Philippines in the Jones Cup and other pocket tournaments, won a championship with Magnolia in the defunct Philippine Basketball League before starting his PBA career in 2006 as the top overall pick of Sta. Lucia.

Williams was traded alongside Ryan Reyes to TNT in 2010 to join an already-talented squad powered by Jimmy Alapag, Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, Harvey Carey, Larry Fonacier, Ali Peek and Jared Dillinger.

Kelly Williams and Jimmy Alapag were part of a talented TNT crew during the early-2010s. (PBA Images)

“Thankful we had a chance to go to battle together, in the PBA and the National Team… Picked up some rings along the way too. As the next chapter of life begins, always just a call/text away. Cheers my brother!!” said Alapag.

Williams and Alapag were also teammates with the national team that placed ninth overall in the 2007 FIBA Asia Championship in Tokushima, Japan.

“I’m sad and happy another great player is retiring,” said Barangay Ginebra San Miguel veteran Mark Caguioa, who was also part of the 2007 Philippine team. 

“I’m glad I got to play with you on the national team. Your post with that national team jersey brought back memories. Even (though) we didn’t qualify I’ve always had those great memories playing with you,” he added.

Kelly Williams, wearing No. 9, was part of the Chot Reyes-mentored Philippine team in the 2007 FIBA Asia Championship.. (FIBA Images)