TNT Tropang Giga believe Mikey Williams is much more than just a super scorer

Mikey Williams finished runner-up to Scottie Thompson in the 2021-22 PBA Most Valuable Player voting, despite dominating in the stats category. PBA Media Bureau

Scottie Thompson beat out Mikey Williams for the Most Valuable Player award in the 2021-22 PBA season. More pointedly, the Barangay Ginebra primetime playmaker beat down the TNT Tropang Giga's super scorer in the final tally.

Thompson wound up with a total of 2,836 voting points coming from stats, players, media, and the league office, while Williams had 1,332 on hand -- making a difference of 1,504 between the winner and the runner-up. While the latter dominated the stats category, the former was way ahead in terms of players, media, and league office votes.

Safe to say, the subjective part (as the stats category is the lone objective component) of the selection process for top player seemed to agree with what an unnamed head coach told ESPN in the preseason: Thompson is more valuable to his team than Williams.

"Scottie is a dominant player in all facets of the game, including defense and obviously, rebounding," the anonymous shot-caller shared with Eros Villanueva. "And he affects the game in more areas than Mikey, who is primarily a scorer."

The stats category was won by Williams, but also, actually, quite proved the point of the unnamed coach. The TNT star averaged 19.5 points (41/37.6/73 shooting splits), 4.4 rebounds, and 4.4 assists. On the other hand, the Ginebra engine had norms of 13.9 markers (55/36.3/70 shooting splits), 9.0 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.2 steals.

In that case, both the eye test and the numbers test point towards Thompson's direction. Right? TNT assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga offers another angle to look at it.

"When you say he's a scorer, that means he can shoot from the outside, he can drive, he has a floater, he's deadly off pick-and-rolls, he's deadly in transition, he can create with the ball in his hands, and he's a good spot-up shooter too. That in itself, andami na agad niyang nagagawa," he explained. "Now, when we talk about other aspects of the game, he's a very good passer, very good rebounder. He affects the game in a lot of ways, not just by his scoring."

Williams' first and foremost elite skill is his scoring, yes, but that in itself makes him one of the most valuable -- if not the most -- players for the Tropang Giga. His mere presence on the floor forces defenses to be honed in on him, opening up better looks, more looks for his teammates. He's a more than willing playmaker as well, more often than not making the right pass to a teammate.

Indeed, his average plus-minus in the Philippine Cup was 10.5, third-best in all of the league. The metric went down to 2.9 in the Governors' Cup, but the fact remained he was a net positive, generally, whenever he was on the court.

Teammate Kib Montalbo believes so, too, and he had a front-row seat to the Williams show as the two formed the end-to-end starting backcourt in TNT's title run in the Philippine Cup and quarterfinals finish in the Governors' Cup.

"Scottie deserved (MVP), of course. He put in the work," he remarked. "But of course, I wanted Mikey to win. I saw how he worked as well. But for me, and I'm sure for Mikey too, just being part of the nominees, is already credit to him."

As the Filipino-American MVP runner-up continues to negotiate a new contract, even as the new All-Filipino conference has already tipped off, TNT acknowledges they're missing the top gun in their loaded arsenal. Jayson Castro may remain the face of the franchise -- and its heart and soul -- but a big hole is still there minus their top scorer and most lethal weapon.

"He was always a big help sa amin. Pag wala kaming mapuntahan, siya na yun," detailed Montalbo. "Hopefully, things work out soon na, and we get to play with him again."

According to Tropang Giga head coach Chot Reyes, he has been in constant communication with Williams, but at the same time, they're still waiting on his answer. There are no timelines, no projections, no guarantees just yet.

"We have an offer for him on the table. This is a process of renegotiation, and unfortunately, the renegotiation is going longer than expected, " he told reporters after they won their first game of the new season sans their starting guard. "I've been talking to him constantly, but apparently, I'm not doing a good job 'cause I couldn't sign him. We're still trying. We're still hoping."

With no answer on the horizon, it's looking likely that the gunslinger will miss at least the first two weeks of the season -- which include the first five games of TNT's title defense. Whenever he comes back, though, Arespacochaga has no doubt he'll be doing so with a vengeance.

"Hopefully. Athletes naman, they use whatever motivation they can," he answered when asked if he believed just missing out on MVP will be additional fuel to the fire for Williams. "Will that mean him changing the way he plays? I don't think so. 'Di naman yan yung maghahabol just for that award, but whatever motivation he can get, he'll use it."

Most definitely, the competitor in Williams will bring along lots and lots of bulletin board material once he returns to the Philippines and the PBA.

Missing out on MVP? Just a super scorer? Contract negotiation taking too long?

Better believe he'll put on a show as he comes back to the court -- a show of force that he is here, and he is here to stay.