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At 41, Kelly Williams makes Gilas return

It’s never too late for Kelly Williams.

The 41-year-old slotman is making his way back to the national team program after receiving invitation from the banged-up Gilas Pilipinas squad that is preparing for the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers this month.

TNT Tropang Giga head coach Jojo Lastimosa and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios made the confirmation to Daily Tribune, saying that the Filipino-American veteran will be joining the pool that will battle Lebanon on 24 February and Jordan on 26 February at the Philippine Arena.

In the previous season of the Philippine Basketball Association, Williams and fellow veteran Arwind Santos made history when they became the first 40-plus players to be included in the All-Defensive team at the same time.

For Williams, his possible inclusion in the national squad could be a fulfillment of his dream of playing for the national team.

Although he represented the country several times before, Williams was also deprived of opportunities playing in the international arena by either an illness or injury.

In 2009, he was included by Yeng Guiao to play for the Powerade Pilipinas team for the FIBA Asia Championship in Tianjin, China, but a blood disorder prevented him from suiting up.

Six years later, he had another crack at rejoining the Philippine team but he tore his anterior cruciate ligament during practice of the Tab Baldwin-mentored Gilas Pilipinas team that went on to win the silver medal in the FIBA Asia Cup.

This time, Williams can relive this great moment of possibly representing the country and shoring up the banged-up Gilas team that is missing the services of injured big men Poy Erram and Japeth Aguilar as well as 7-foot-2 Kai Sotto, who decided to skip the sixth window due to personal reasons.

Should Williams get included in the squad, he will be one of the oldest national team player to see action in a major international event.

In the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, 44-year-old Asi Taulava helped beef up the front court of the Rain or Shine-backed Philippine team that was coached by Guiao and reinforced by National Basketball Association star Jordan Clarkson.

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