To cap an eventful year, Mikey Williams comes up huge to help TNT end Ginebra’s Governors’ Cup reign – rezal404

The Tropang Giga celebrate their latest championship.  —MARLO CUETO/

The Tropang Giga celebrate their latest championship. —MARLO CUETO/

Mikey Williams summed up what it meant to play the game of his life on Friday and give TNT the PBA Governors’ Cup title at the expense of Barangay Ginebra.

“It’s a special day,” Williams said after sizzling for 38 points and being named Finals Most Valuable Player after the Tropang Giga emerged as new kings of the season-ending conference with a hard-fought 97-93 win before 13,000 fans at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Williams hit nine triples, including a deep attempt from almost the edge of the center court logo that put the Tropang Giga ahead for good at 95-93 with over a minute to go in the heart-pumping thriller.

Stops in the end, including those manufactured by Poy Erram and import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, sealed the deal for TNT, which not only foiled the Gin Kings’ bid for a third successive Governors’ Cup crown but also provided a rare championship for one of the teams under Manny Pangilinan.

It was just the second time in the last 17 conferences that a non-San Miguel Corporation team won a PBA crown. In both instances, it was TNT that claimed the title.

Splendid play

Mikey Williams' hot hand helps TNT clinch the 2023 PBA Governors' Cup title.  —Marlo Cueto/

Mikey Williams’ hot hand helps TNT clinch the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup title. —Marlo Cueto/

The result cemented Williams’ second Finals MVP after a repeat performance of his splendid play in the 2021 Philippine Cup when TNT beat Magnolia in Bacolor, Pampanga.

Williams posted six-game series averages of 22.0 points off 45 percent shooting with 3.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists.

“I had it going,” Williams continued. “I owe it to my team to stay aggressive because we’re playing a tough team in Ginebra.

“They wouldn’t go away. They made a run, we weathered the storm, we made a run and that’s why we’re here right now,” he added.

The twin trophies he had by the end of Friday night capped an eventful 47th season for Williams, who had to miss the first few games of the Philippine Cup while trying to come to terms with TNT management on a new contract.

An injury bothered Williams during the Finals of the same conference which ended with TNT squandering a 3-2 lead and losing to San Miguel Beer for the crown.

Things got bad in the Commissioner’s Cup when Williams was suspended for a few games for missing practice, compounding the Tropang Giga’s failure to make the quarterfinals.

But the season filled with ups and downs ended like a dream for Williams and the Tropang Giga.

‘Greatly honoured’

TNT guard Mikey Williams named Finals MVP for the second time.  – MARLO CUETO/

TNT guard Mikey Williams named Finals MVP for the second time. – MARLO CUETO/

“Mikey has come a long way,” said TNT mentor Jojo Lastimosa, the first coach to win a championship in his first conference, recalling the contract talks with Williams when he was fulfilling his other role as team manager.

“We had some rough patches when I was negotiating with him. There was some animosity between the two of us, and we were able to talk about it. As a coach, you need communication and the players understand. They would always understand.”

TNT capped off a conference that kicked it off by winning five of the first six games before making the surprise change of tapping Hollis-Jefferson in lieu of the high-scoring Jalen Hudson.

The Tropang Giga never lost a step since, even when TNT lost two of the first three games against a Ginebra team that entered the Finals as favorites and losing Justin Chua and key dual-threat RR Pogoy for the championship fight due to injuries.

And Lastimosa, whose deal to handle TNT was a one-off after Chot Reyes opted to step back this conference to focus on the Gilas Pilipinas program for the International Basketball Federation World Cup, savored the sweet taste of victory over Ginebra’s counterpart Tim Cone, his train mentor during his playing days with Alaska.

“I’m greatly honored … seldom [do you] beat Justin Brownlee and Tim Cone in this conference,” he said. “They owned the Governors’ Cup, and if there’s somebody dethroning them, they must have done something really nice.”

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