Kelly Williams is glad to see TNT move closer towards reviving its glory days by advancing to the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
The Tropang Giga earned the second straight trip to the PBA’s biggest stage, this time with coach Chot Reyes back in a bid to end the six-year championship drought of the MVP Group’s flagship squad.
Williams said the departure of Reyes in 2012 to coach Gilas Pilipinas followed by first retirement of franchise great Jimmy Alapag in early-2015 had a huge effect in TNT’s ongoing dryspell.
“I think the elephant that left the room for us in the last several years was having a player and a leader like Jimmy Alapag. And I think that was a huge adjustment with coach Chot stepping down,” Williams said in the virtual pre-Finals press conference Tuesday, Oct. 19.
“The whole organization had to revamp and the transition over the years was a tough one and that’s just from me being there over the years going from a championship team to where it's been for the last six years.
TNT managed to win just two titles following Reyes’ departure which came in the 2013 Philippine Cup under Norman Black and in the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup under Jong Uichico.
Since then, TNT underwent numerous changes, mainly at the sidelines going from Uichico to Nash Racela to the tandem of coach Bong Ravena and active consultant Mark Dickel.
In that span, the team fell short against San Miguel Beer in the 2017 and 2019 Commissioner’s Cup and again in last year’s Philippine Cup bubble, prompting management to convince Reyes to head back to his familiar role.
“With having Coach Chot back and kind of bringing back the culture and atmosphere that has allowed us to win in the past I think has been refreshing. I think it's been what we’ve been looking for especially in this drought since the last championship.”
Williams can only hope that the similar factors that enabled TNT to win titles in the past will translate into a similar finish against Magnolia Pambansang Manok in the Finals.
“We have a bunch of guys who are willing to do whatever it takes for the sake of the team and I think that's a big similarity to the championship teams that I’ve been on and I believe that’s by design, that's how Coach Chot puts his teams together,” Williams said.