TNT has managed to hold the fort even with veteran big man Kelly Williams out in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series against San Miguel.
As Williams continues to sit out under the league's health and safety protocols, the Tropang Giga were able to regain the lead in the best-of-seven showdown after a 115-98 blowout win in Game 3 on Friday night.
Williams, the 2008 MVP, hasn’t played since the start of the second round of the playoffs and most likely won’t be around too, for Game 4 on Sunday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
“I think the earliest possible is Game 5. That’s the earliest possible, but still it’s not a guarantee,” according to TnT coach Chot Reyes.
Kelly crucial to TNT campaign
The 39-year-old Williams played a big hand in TnT ending up as the top seed going to the playoffs as he averaged 7.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.6 steals in all 11 games of the team in the eliminations.
He had four points, seven rebounds, and two assists while playing close to 30 minutes as the Tropang Giga dethroned Philippine Cup champion Barangay Ginebra in the quarterfinals, before the Fil-Am forward was placed under the league’s health and safety protocols going to the semis.
While TnT misses the veteran presence of the 6-foot-6 Williams, Reyes said the team has to soldier on and carry the fight without him.
“As a team, we’re not thinking of that (Williams’ absence), but we want to just keep our focus and our mind on the task at hand,” said Reyes.
But the TnT bigs are doing a good job filling the gap that Williams left in the middle.
Poy Erram again came up big for the Tropang Giga in Game 3, scoring 21 points, 13 rebounds, and three steals – all conference highs – while converting three from beyond the arc.
“Mahirap din (without Kelly), but it’s a challenge for me as a player,” said Erram.