Focused Williams joins TNT training camp

This time, there’s no more drama for Mikey Williams and TNT Tropang Giga

Mikey Williams and TNT Tropang Giga are tipped to bounce back when the PBA Governors’ Cup opens on 22 January. Photo by Rio Deluvio

A more focused, more determined Williams showed up and joined the Tropang Giga in a five-day training camp in Laguna in preparation for the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup that will open on 22 January at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

A former scoring champion and Most Valuable Player of the Philippine Cup last season, Williams is determined to lead the Tropang Giga in their return to the playoffs following a shock exit in the Commissioner’s Cup.

The setback could be attributed to a lot of factors, but the drama surrounding Williams is said to be the main reason why the Tropang Giga were distracted from competing against league heavyweights like Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Magnolia and guest team Bay Area Dragons.

In fact, the 31-year-old Williams had gone missing in action for several games and was slapped with disciplinary measures, including a one-week suspension, by the management that led to the downfall of the Tropang Giga.

“He’s acting like he’s on another level, that he’s better than the other players which should not be the case” said then TNT team manager Jojo Lastimosa after Williams missed several practices.

“That’s how we feel – he just doesn’t care. He’s getting paid a lot of money and he’s not being a good teammate. That’s your first responsibility: You have to be a good teammate. For me, practices are sacred journey.”

Everything eventually went well as Williams returned to the Tropang Giga.

TNT, however, made an early exit, marking the first time since the Governors’ Cup in 2018 that it failed to advance to the post-season.

But everything is now a thing of the past.

The Tropang Giga made some key changes with Lastimosa taking a more active role as head coach replacing Chot Reyes, who was tasked to focus on preparing Gilas Pilipinas for the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers next month and the FIBA Basketball World Cup in August.

The Tropang Giga also tapped a Serbian consultant in Lale Gurunovic to form an explosive bench tandem.

Like Lastimosa, a PBA legend who was able to pinch hit for coach Yeng Guiao when he was still part of the NLEX bench, the 52-year-old Gurunovic also has extensive experience as he called the shots for teams like Segasse SC in Lebanon, Al-Gharafa in Qatar, Kazma in Kuwait.

His latest stint was in Taiwan, where he handled former National Basketball Association standout Jeremy Lin at the Kaohsiung Steelers.

The Tropang Giga will be parading 6-foot-6 Jalen Hudson, who played college ball with Virginia Tech and Florida before suiting up for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Summer League in 2019.

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