By Leobert Juliam A. de la Peña
The 41-year-old Kelly Williams was just named as a part of the Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team pool following the unavailability of Kai Sotto and Japeth Aguilar for the final window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Sonny Barrios confirmed the recent move made by the Gilas coaching staff last February 14, 2023.
With only two weeks left to prepare before facing Lebanon and Jordan, Chot Reyes and the rest of his assistants decided to bring in the high-flying veteran who was also a member of the national team during the past years.
The former Santa Lucia Realtors franchise player isn’t new to Reyes’ system as a current member of the TNT Tropang Giga who also suited up during the past FIBA window.
Williams had a consistent outing during his two games played with the national team after averaging 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 points last Asian Qualifiers window.
Aside from his athleticism and tremendous paint defense, the Gilas squad will be expecting locker-room leadership from the long-time PBA star.
Williams already announced his retirement from the PBA last 2020 but surprised everyone when he made his comeback a year after and won a championship with the Tropang Giga.
The six-foot-eight big man is still a vital piece to Tropang Giga’s roster and is currently averaging 8.67 points, 6.17 rebounds, 1.33 assists, and 0.33 blocks in the ongoing 2023 PBA Governor’s Cup.
Gilas will be tasked to take down Lebanon on February 24 and will set up a highly-anticipated showdown with Jordan on February 27 to be held at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.