PBA: Back to drawing board for TNT's Williams despite Game 1 win

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 21 2021 06:24 PM

TNT guard Mikey Williams puts up a shot in Game 1 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals against Magnolia. PBA Media Bureau.
TNT guard Mikey Williams puts up a shot in Game 1 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals against Magnolia. PBA Media Bureau.

MANILA, Philippines -- TNT guard Mikey Williams was thrilled to have contributed to the Tropang GIGA's comfortable win over Magnolia in Game 1 of the PBA Philippine Cup finals, but afterward the rookie was quick to turn his attention on the improvements they need to make.

Williams, who endured an up-and-down series in the semifinals against San Miguel, put up 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting in Game 1 as he shrugged off the defense of Magnolia's Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon.

The fourth overall pick in the PBA Rookie Draft also had 10 rebounds and five assists in TNT's 88-70 win, playing just 28 minutes in the blowout.

"I just came in and just wanted to contribute. I felt like we prepared well, and we just wanted to execute everything the coach wanted to get done. And as a team, we did that," said Williams after the game.

Williams stressed that he has some things to work on, however, especially as he continues to deal with the Magnolia defense -- notably Barroca and Jalalon, whom he called "tenacious defenders."

"They're picking (me) up 94 feet," he said of the Magnolia guards. "I'm definitely gonna get back to the drawing board and figure out things that I can do to kinda neutralize the pressure that they're putting on us, and just be more effective."

One thing that Williams wants to improve on in Game 2? 

"Definitely, take care of the ball," he said. "I had a couple of turnovers that I want to get back, so I just have to get back to the drawing board and keep working, and figure out where I can go from there."

Williams finished with four of TNT's 19 turnovers in the game, but TNT's transition defense was on point: Magnolia scored just 15 points off their miscues.

In contrast, TNT converted the Hotshots' 28 turnovers into 26 points.

Aside from his own turnovers, Williams also stressed the need to "clean up some things on defense," particularly the "little tacky fouls" that led to the Hotshots shooting a whopping 44 free throws in Game 1. 

"And definitely, we gotta figure out a way to get on the boards more. If we limit the offensive boards for them, I feel like we're putting ourselves in a good position to win a game," he added.

For Williams, his solid outing in Game 1 will go a long way towards boosting his confidence for the rest of the series, especially as he is making his first finals appearance in the PBA.

"(After) my up and down play in the San Miguel series, I'm just trying to come in and continue to assert myself, as best as I can, help my team at the end of the day," he said.

"This is a team game, and I'm just gonna continue to do what I can and pick and choose my spots when I can," he added. "But coach is giving the freedom to play my game, so he's making my job a lot easier, and that's confidence in itself."

"So I just have to continue to build and continue to work and get better every single day."

Game 2 is on Friday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.