TALK 'N Text team owner Manny V. Pangilinan has asked for prayers for the ailing Kelly Williams and assured that a spot in the Texters lineup will be waiting for the former PBA MVP once he is fit enough to return to action.
“I ask our countrymen to pray for his complete remission out of this sickness. And then, you know, I told Kelly, he’s welcome to come back anytime,” Pangilinan told Spin.ph.
The 31-year-old Williams, who is battling a rare blood disorder, has asked for an indefinite medical leave with the PLDT-owned franchise - proof enough, Pangilinan said, that his condition can't be taken lightly.
“He asked for time off. I think it (his illness) is enough for him to consider asking for a medical leave at this time,” said Pangilinan, who hosted a dinner for Williams at the NBC Tent at The Fort on Monday.
Sources said Williams bid his teammates goodbye during the dinner as he seeks a new round of treatment for the immune thrombocytopenia purpura ailment that he has battled since 2009.
On when he can return, even doctors can't say, Pangilinan said.
“I don’t know if it’s worse but it certainly recurs, it affects his mood and his playing with Talk 'N Text," the tycoon said. "His doctor themselves are not certain how long he can recover from his illness.”
“It has caused him severe physical condition and at the same time, taken away time from his family and kids."
National coach Chot Reyes, for his part, said that with Williams' present condition, he is no longer keeping his expectations high that he can join the Gilas team to the 2013 Fiba-Asia championships in Manila this August.
The top pick of the 2006 PBA draft was part of the pool named by Reyes for the tournament serving as the qualifier for the 2014 world championships in Spain.
“Right now it’s a medical leave, I think, sa akin ha - ayaw ko naman magsalita ng tapos - but you know, in my mind, hindi ko na siya iniisip pa sa Gilas," said the national coach.
“I don’t think babalik siya for the Fiba Asia. Sa akin it’s all about Kelly na muna and his health. Naiintindihan ko yun."
Reyes also praised Williams' toughness and resolve to play the game he loves, recalling one instance when the Fil-American wingman fractured his cheek bone last season and still played through it.
“Sa ibang player ordinary yun, pero sa kanya he can’t have injuries like that because of his condition. Delikado talaga,” said Reyes.
“It’s a condition he’s been living with for a long time already, ilagay mo yung sitwasyon mo sa lagay niya for the past four, five years, nag-gagamot araw-araw. Ang hirap nun,” added the only five-time PBA Coach of the Year.
“Magbasketbol ka lang ng walang karamdaman, mahirap na. Yun pa kayang may ganun ka. Naiintindihan ko rin. Talagang mahirap talaga for him na magtagal playing at this level,” stressed Reyes.
Pangilinan and Reyes advised Williams to focus on regaining his health.
“Timbangin muna niya, only he can answer that. Wala sa ating makakapagsabi kung ano mabuti at dapat sa kanya, ang sinasabi ko lang naiitintindihan ko ang sitwasyon niya,” said Reyes.
Pangilinan said: “We thank him for the three, four years of service to the Talk 'N Text team, we wish him well. And sana maka-recover siya quickly. We need him."