TNT rookie Mikey Williams braces for tough grind vs Magnolia's Barroca, Jalalon

Published October 20, 2021, 1:00 AM

by Jonas Terrado

Photo from PBA

TNT rookie Mikey Williams is looking forward to facing Magnolia Pambansang Manok’s Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon, two of the PBA’s pesky guards, as he hopes to produce better shooting numbers in the Philippine Cup Finals.

Williams made it to the league’s grandest stage in his first conference after having to go through the tough defense of San Miguel Beer’s Chris Ross during the semifinal series that saw him make just 32 percent of his shots.

He is expected to have his hands full in the best-of-seven championship duel, with Barroca and Jalalon set to bring their A-game on the defensive end in hopes of keeping Williams’ shooting as low as possible.

Magnolia could also try and put other guards like Paul Lee and reserve guard Justin Melton in hopes of containing the talented TNT cager.

But the fourth pick in this year’s draft is not shying away from the challenge.

“They’re both very really good defenders, they put a lot of pressure on the team,” Williams said in the pre-Finals press conference held Tuesday, Oct. 19.

“It’s just trying to manage and figure out ways to beat their press because I know they’re gonna be really pesky and really up in our face. If we manage to control that and figure out ways to neutralize that I think we’ll be fine,” he added.

In TNT’s lone meeting with Magnolia last Sept. 5, Williams shot 5-of-15 from the field marred by six of seven misses from three-point land despite registering 14 points. He did add five assists and two steals as TNT prevailed 83-76.

Despite his shooting percentage, Williams has also proved that he can contribute in different ways other than scoring.

He’ll go to the Finals not only with an average of 16.2 points but also 4.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists.

Williams said the TNT-Magnolia clash will be something special.

“It’s been a lot of sacrifices, like what everybody’s been talking about, a lot of challenges as well. This is gonna be my first experience in the Finals as well so I’m just looking forward to it with my team,” said the Tropang Giga guard.

“We put a lot of work, a lot of preparation in. It’s gonna be an experience. Definitely excited to get started.”