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‘Retired’ Kelly nears diadem

Kelly Williams never thought that he will win a Philippine Basketball Association title following his sudden retirement two years ago.

But now, he has a golden chance to achieve the unthinkable.

After carrying the load in TNT Tropang Giga’s 102-93 victory over San Miguel Beer in Game 5 of their Philippine Cup best-of-seven finals series, the 40-year-old Williams is on the brink of winning another crown when they tangle in Game 6 on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Williams’ performance of 21 points and nine rebounds made him as the first 40-year-old player to score at least 20 pts in the PBA finals in more than three decades.

In fact, the last player to do the trick was 45-year-old Sonny Jaworski, who poured 20 points in Ginebra’s 125-114 victory over Shell in Game 2 of their 1991 First Conference finals series.

“It’s pretty ridiculous, right? Less than two years ago I was sitting on my couch while eating Doritos,” Williams said.

“But I’ve said that if this man (Chot Reyes) hadn’t come back, I wouldn’t have it. I’m in no better position than to be in coach Chot.”

Announcing his retirement in the middle of pandemic in 2020, the 6-foot-6 banger received a personal request from Reyes to join the squad for the 46th season.

William’s return was immediately rewarded by a crown as he helped the Tropang Giga end their six-year drought by winning the 2021 Philippine Cup in Bacolor, Pampanga.

Now tasked to bang bodies against San Miguel giant June Mar Fajardo, Williams emerged as a solid contributor with steady averages of 11 points and eight rebounds in the past five games.

With a golden opportunity in front of him, Williams remains focused on his main assignment of serving as a force to be reckoned with for TNT.

“I don’t know if I’ve guarded him without fouling yet. Again, my job is to give him some resistance and not make it easy for him,” Williams said.

“For myself personally, I wouldn’t have come back if I believed I can’t be in this position again. I’m just grateful to be here.”

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