MANILA, Philippines -- In just two seasons in the PBA, TNT guard Mikey Williams has already developed a reputation as one of the premier shot-makers in the league.
Thus, it came as a shock to the crowd at the Araneta Coliseum -- and to Williams himself -- when the prolific guard missed a wide-open layup down the stretch of Game 3 of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series against the Magnolia Hotshots.
"Oh, I can't even tell you. I thought it was easy money. In my mind, I said, 'Easy money,'" Williams said.
The reigning PBA Rookie of the Year got control of the ball after a mad scramble that saw possession change hands several times in a span of seconds. But Williams couldn't take advantage of the opportunity: instead, his layup hit the side of the rim, and Magnolia got the ball back with under a minute to go. The Hotshots raced to the other end, where Mark Barroca scored to tie the count at 90.
Even TNT coach Chot Reyes couldn't quite believe what happened right in front of him.
"I almost fell off my seat when he missed that layup, that wide-open layup," the coach told reporters after the game.
Fortunately for Williams, TNT had enough time to hack out the win. Barroca scored the go-ahead layup with 10 seconds to go but he was answered by Jayson Castro, who knocked down the go-ahead three-pointer with two seconds left.
A last-ditch triple by Paul Lee misfired, and TNT held on for the 93-92 win that gave them a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.
"Tough, scrappy win. I'm just glad we pulled it out. Jayson came and saved the day today," said Williams after the game.
The missed layup capped a tough night for Williams who went 4-of-13 from the field for 15 points, after averaging 27 points in the first two games of the series. He had 10 assists, but also committed seven turnovers.
"It didn't bounce my way today," said the guard. "That's okay. I gotta come back stronger for Game 4."
Williams acknowledged that Magnolia did well on defense, but was pleased to see his teammates step up and make their shots.
"I just had to find the open man as quick as I could 'cause they're a really good defensive team," he said. "They [Magnolia] find the loopholes in our offense to really pick and choose who we get to shoot."
"I'm just glad my teammates hit their shots today," he added.
With two days in between games, Williams is looking forward to seeing what adjustments they can make against the Hotshots' defense.
"We see some things we need to work on, and definitely a lot of things that we need to make adjustments on so we're gonna do that. We have practice tomorrow so we're gonna start there," he said.
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