PBA: Kelly Williams suffers back injury in TNT's Game 1 win

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 20 2021 09:44 PM | Updated as of Oct 20 2021 10:38 PM

TNT center Kelly Williams is stretchered out of the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym. PBA Media Bureau
TNT center Kelly Williams is stretchered out of the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym. PBA Media Bureau


MANILA, Philippines -- TNT's big victory over Magnolia in Game 1 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals didn't come without a cost.

Veteran center Kelly Williams exited the game in the third quarter and had to leave the venue on a stretcher after hurting his back.

Williams, who came out of retirement in March to return to TNT, was going for a slam dunk off a steal but faltered on his way up. He was able to save the possession and assist on a Kib Montalbo layup for a 68-41 lead, but TNT immediately called a timeout.

Williams was subbed out at the 5:21 mark and didn't return to the game; he left with 10 points, six rebounds, and three assists in 17 minutes of action.

"He might have strained his back in that play when he tried to go up for the dunk, and he can hardly walk," Reyes later said of Williams.

TNT went on to win the game, 88-70, for a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

A video posted by the PBA showed Williams being stretchered out of the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga. The center was said to be suffering from "extreme back spasms."

"I hope it gets better, but it doesn't look too good now," Reyes admitted.

Williams' injury is now TNT's "main concern" in their best-of-7 Finals series against Magnolia, said Reyes, as the center is a crucial part of their system.

"(I'm) very concerned," the coach said. "We don't even have to belabor how important Kelly is in this team, right, we already know his value."

"And so that's our main concern moving forward in this series. We hope Kelly is healthy enough to play," he added.

Williams missed the first four games of TNT's semifinals series against San Miguel Beer due to health and safety protocols. He returned for the final three games, averaging 9.3 points and 6.3 rebounds as TNT won Game 5 and 7 to advance to the Finals.