CHICAGO - Although Valentine's is still a good 103 days away, love is in the air over at TNT Tropang Giga.
Mikey Williams, the currently suspended and previously disgruntled star shooter for the conglomerate, met for lunch with his teammates today after team practice around noon at a TGI Friday's restaurant in Eastwood.
Every TNT player attended, except senior statesman Kelly Williams, who was reportedly feeling unwell.
The menu included apologies, with a side dish of regrets and a promise of reconciliation as a hefty appetizer. Williams, I am told, had humble pie for dessert.
It was one single step.
But a giant leap for Mikey who needed to mend whatever tension and angst had been marinating in the TNT locker room as word began to percolate that the Fil-Am wasn't a good teammate and was doing things detrimental to the franchise.
"It's a welcome development that the team is pulling together to get a brother back. We all deserve a second chance and there is always room for growth and maturity for everyone - myself included," TNT team manager Jojo Lastimosa told me over the phone.
"After Saturday (when his suspension ends), he's good (to rejoin team practice)," Jolas, one of the PBA greatest players who won 10 championships during his 14-year career, said.
Effort does not always ensure a positive outcome but a wise man once said that the reward lies in the attempt and Mikey deserves all the credit for breaking bread with the guys.
Mikey's camp had reached out to me the past few days to address his temporary banishment from TNT, only to pull the plug today because the 6-foot-2, 190-pound offensive juggernaut was "working on something."
AND THIS LUNCHEON OF LOVE TURNED OUT TO BE THE BEST PLAY MIKEY WILLIAMS EVER DREW UP.
Going back-and-forth through the media was potentially adversarial while a prepared statement might have come across as impersonal and insincere.
Face to face is always better than FaceTime.
The healing has started and now the real work begins.
With a disappointing 3-4 record, the Tropang Giga are looking up in the standings with seven teams above them in the ladder while Rain or Shine and NorthPort, also mired at 3-4, are tugging at their heels.
Mercifully, a nasty locker room war was averted and TNT can now devote all its energy in the battle to reach the playoffs.
In the five games that he's suited up. Williams averaged 19.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. The expectation is that he ramps up his production in the ongoing Commissioner's Cup conference.
Williams can now parry questions about some "civil disturbance" and turn his focus instead on his game, which needs a little sharpening as he is shooting just 42 percent from the field overall although his marksmanship behind the arc is at a high 41 percent.
But then again, the PBA is just a game. More importantly for the Tropang Giga, they can heave a collective sigh of relief.
A bomb that threatened to blow up TNT's season has been defused.