TNT assistant coach Josh Reyes says Mikey Williams on top of team's draft radar

For TNT assistant coach Josh Reyes, Mikey Williams could have been the top pick of the draft. PBA Images (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—TNT assistant coach Josh Reyes revealed on Thursday that the team really intended to pick Mikey Williams in the first regular round of the 2021 PBA Draft from the very start.

"In our draft board, Mikey was number one," Reyes, the son of current chief tactician Chot, said in the Usapang Sports online forum.

Thanks to a trade with the NLEX Road Warriors and the Blackwater Bossing on March 11, the Tropang Giga, who initially did not have any pick within the first two rounds of the draft, entered the first round with the number four pick as well as the special Gilas Pilipinas round, giving them a chance to take the now 30-year-old combo guard.

[Related Story: TNT lands no. 4 pick in trade with NLEX, Blackwater]

However, Josh Reyes bared that TNT would have still drafted Williams if it was to select earlier in the draft, even saying that the team would take Williams over eventual top selection Joshua Munzon if it had the number one pick and not Terrafirma.

"No disrespect to Munzon, [Jamie] Malonzo, and Calvin [Oftana]. They're all great and talented players, but with the need of our team, especially somebody who Jayson [Castro] can pass the torch to, it was really Mikey who really fit the number one pressing needs of our team," Reyes further said.

The changing of guards became imminent when the Tropang Giga made Williams their starting point guard for the rest of the Philippine Cup and kept Castro off the bench.

And Williams delivered, quickly becoming their primary offensive option throughout the conference.

He then upped his performance right in the conference's biggest stage, averaging 27.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 0.8 steals a game during the finals against the Magnolia Hotshots en route to Finals MVP honors.

Now, Williams is on track of becoming only the PBA's second rookie MVP, leading the pack in statistical points with 35.3 average SP's.

TNT's coaching staff was surprised at how Williams quickly turned the tables for the franchise at least for the Philippine Cup.

"We're surprised on how easily he fit in sa team, and we thought that it would be more of a process—baka kakapain muna niya bago siya papasa sa amin. But he was able to adapt easily despite noong start of the conference, coming off the bench muna siya and then we gave him multiple roles just to see where he would fit the best.

However, Reyes said that William's early statement was expected of someone who has been in the pro basketball circuit around the world for quite some time.

"Having observed Mikey for a long time since his days with Canton in the G-League and his games sa ABL, we know his capabilities, talent, and what he can do if put in the right situation," Reyes further said.

Needless to say, the Tropang Giga made a great draft choice.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno