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    COLUMN: Keeping Mikey Williams will come at a high cost for TNT

    Apr 2, 2022
    Mikey Williams Ginebra vs TNT
    Mikey Williams invoked a clause in his contract that allows him to renegotiate his deal.
    PHOTO: PBA Images
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    CHICAGO -- With the luxury of a twice-to-beat advantage, and with arguably the best scorer -- Mikey Williams -- in their roster, the TNT Tropang Giga had no business losing to bitter rival Ginebra in the quarterfinals of this ongoing Governor's Cup conference.

    But amazingly, they did.

    And as giant corporations often do when the crap hits the fan, someone has to be held accountable so that blame is deflected and some of the ugly mess can be sanitized.

    Unfortunately, the fall guy in this scenario turned out to be the nice guy.

    According to multiple sources, the highly respected and very well-liked Gabby Cui has been relieved of his duties as the longtime manager of the TNT Tropang Giga, the standard bearer of the MVP group of teams in the PBA.

    I reached out to TNT governor Ricky Vargas, head coach Chot Reyes, and to Cui himself to verify the development.

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    None of them replied, which is their prerogative, of course.

    I just hope that they didn't run out of cellphone loads.

    Anyway, it's not clear whether Cui was forced to step down or that, fueled by guilt of his team's violent demise, he quit on his own volition. He's just gone but likely to keep his lofty position as assistant vice president at Smart PLDT, sources told me.

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    CUI'S DEPARTURE APPARENTLY STEMMED FROM TNT'S FAILURE TO ACQUIRE A GOOD IMPORT TO COMPLEMENT THEIR POWERHOUSE ROSTER.

    The Tropang Giga started with McKenzie Moore before turning to Aaron Fuller when Moore reportedly injured his MCL. In the end, as TNT's mighty castle was burning in the welter of Ginebra's ruthless assault, the Tropang Giga went down in flames with Leon Gilmore III.

    Needing only one win to advance to the semifinals, the Tropang Giga lost two games in a row to the Gin Kings by a total of 32 points.

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    Although he was in charge of bringing in imports, many believe Cui did not have the final say on player personnel matters, which makes his dismissal odd because it appears he got tossed for something that wasn't entirely his fault.

    Look, San Miguel Beer also went through a slew of three imports including Shabazz Muhammad, who commanded a hefty $70,000 a month. Like TNT, the Beermen fantastically failed to meet expectations and were quickly eliminated by the Meralco Bolts.

    The only difference is that San Miguel did not throw Gee Abanilla under the bus and kept him as their team manager.

    But then again, to each his own and TNT certainly owns the sole right to rearrange the cushy leather chairs in their front office.

    Cui, who has overseen so many trades during his tenure, probably knows that better than anyone else.

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      MIKEY WILLIAMS UPDATE

      Mikey Williams is back in Los Angeles and pumping his BMW with some of that atrocious $6-a-gallon gasoline.

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      But the eternally chill sweet-shooter is happy to be home in familiar grounds with his friends and loved ones.

      Signed to a two-year deal with TNT last April, Mikey invoked a clause in his contract that allows him to renegotiate his contract.

      There has been "no movement" in those contract talks and sources are telling me that TNT hasn't even reached out to Mikey yet. Maybe their front office upheaval has something to do with that.

      Either way, keeping Williams will come at a very, very high cost. Mikey's asking price is price, I'm told, is at least P1.5 million a month.

      Sounds crazy but it's not.

      That's simply the market value of Williams, a Rookie of the Year and MVP candidate.

      TNT can afford to pay Williams for sure. What TNT can't afford is losing a franchise player with a generational talent.

      This time, you'd hope, the TNT bigwigs will pick up the phone.

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      And show Mikey the money.

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      Mikey Williams invoked a clause in his contract that allows him to renegotiate his deal.
      PHOTO: PBA Images
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