THE Mikey Williams that played in the MPBL and the Williams now playing in the PBA are poles apart.
Those were the thoughts of one of Williams’ former coaches with the Gensan Warriors, Nonoy Pido, in the wake of the Fil-Am freshman's spectacular PBA Finals debut with the TNT Tropang Giga on Wednesday.
Williams was the most dominant player on the floor in TnT's 88-70 Game One win in the 2021 Philippine Cup Finals against the Magnolia Hotshots, finishing with 21 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals.
For his former coach at Gensan in the MPBL, where Williams played for a few games before going back to the US, the fiery debut was mind blowing.
“Actually, alam ko na magaling si Mikey pero hindi ko alam na ganyan kagaling at ganyan ka-finesse,” said Pido. “Kahit sa ABL hindi ganyan laro n'ya, otherwise pag-uusapan talaga ng fans. Sana kilala siya at maingay sa MPBL.”
In a league like the MPBL that was mostly dominated by ex-pros who lost spots in PBA teams, Williams didn't really register among fans.
In his 12 games in the MPBL, Williams averaged 16.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 6 assist and 1.3 steals per game during the Lakan Cup (2018-2019 season). He had double-doubles in his first 10 games and had career highs of 27 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists.
Those numbers, MPBL insiders bared, dwindled significantly before Williams left the league under mysterious circumstances.
“Mais-mais ang galaw ni Mikey sa MPBL e. Mas explosive pa si (Nick) Demusis kaysa sa kanya,” said longtime SPIN.ph reader Iskay Dela Cruz.
'Nangangapa pa 'sya sa laro'
Asked about the big disparity in Williams' games, Pido said: "Tingin ko nung time nya sa MPBL, nangangapa pa siya sa laro sa Pilipinas. Kaya ako nung time na yun, inaalam ko yung strengths nya as well as yung gusto nya.
“Kaya nung time namin, ang gagawin ko kakausapin ko siya para tanungin, ‘This is the kind of opponent we will face next, they have good guards, what position do you want to play?’ Tapos yun sa-suggest sya,” said the former Hapee Toothpaste guard.
“Si Mikey kasi mas effective pag hinayaan mo siya na maging comfortable sa pwesto nya. He can play the one, two, three [positions] with ease, dapat lang alam mo timing nyan,” added the former Pampanga Dragons guard.
Pido added TnT's Chot Reyes is exactly the coach that can bring out the best in the former G League player.
“Perfect fit kasi sa system ni coach Chot 'yung laro ni Mikey tapos alam naman natin very talented ang lineup ng TNT kaya 'yun, ganado si Mikey,” he said. "Nakikita ko kumportable siya kay coach Chot tapos well defined ang role n'ya sa team."
Pido said some of the weaknesses in Williams' game during his days in the MPBL are no longer as evident.
"May diperensya eh. Dati kasi nakikita ko nalilito siya minsan, di ko alam kung nagpipigil siya o ano. Medyo hesitant siya tapos mga judgment nya alanganin. May pagka-fancy siya nun pero di siya mataas mag-turnover,” said the coach.
“Pero dito sa TNT yung potential n'ya na nakikita ko noon, parang effortless n'yang nilalabas. Magaling magpasa, magaling mag-create tapos very decisive siya, pag gumalaw di nag-aalangan. Pulido,” said Pido.
“Magaling si Mikey, he just needed a break and a good team," Pido added. "I am happy to see him play like that. He will go places."
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