COACH Tim Cone couldn’t help but expressed his gratitude to stand-in import Marqus Blakely, who was largely responsible for the flying start Purefoods is currently having in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Cone was grateful for the huge impact Blakely did for the Hotshots as they await the arrival of original import choice Daniel Orton.
Blakely carried the defending champions to a 3-0 start, before passing the baton to Orton, who gamely stepped in and contributed big in the Hotshots’ 82-67 win over NLEX that stretched their unbeaten streak.
Nicknamed ‘Mr. Everything’, Blakely averaged 22.0 points, 14.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 3.0 steals, and 2.6 blocks in his short, three-game stint with the Hotshots.
“When he (Blakely) comes in (to the game or practice), his confidence level permeates to the whole team because they play a different level with him around,” Cone said in describing the presence of the 6-foot-4 Blakely.
The 26-year-old Blakely served as Purefoods’ temporary import while waiting for Orton’s contract with the Sichuan Blue Whales in the Chinese Basketball Association to finish.
When Orton arrived last week, Blakely willingly stepped aside to become a practice player for the Hotshots.
But more importantly, he helped the new Purefoods get accustomed to the intricacies of the triangle offense.
“It was good for us to have him (Blakely) around for one month after the last conference. He brings such confidence for the players because the players got re-energized with him around and they were able to carry that over when they saw Daniel,” explained the Cone, whose team plays Rain or Shine in the Petron Saturday Special road game in Dipolog City.
“I think that’s the function of Marqus now and we’re carrying his momentum forward.”
Orton showed some fancy stuff of his during his debut with the Hotshots Wednesday against the Road Warriors when he perked up the Smart Araneta Coliseum crowd with a salute after executing an authoritative two-handed slam dunk.
While Cone doesn’t doubt the kind of impact Orton can bring to the team, the more important for him is how the former rookie pick of the Orlando Magic in the 2010 NBA Rookie Draft could adopt playing the ‘triangle.’
“It looks like he (Orton) wants to win. We knew the skills will be there because he’s a first round pick of the NBA, but you never know the character of the guy until you get him here and see him play,” he added.
“If he can play with that kind of enthusiasm and energy, sky’s the limit for him.”
Meantime, Purefoods forward Marc Pingris said the team doesn’t intend to relax one bit, despite seeing Orton’s impressive debut against NLEX.
Instead, Pingris has egged the rest of the team to serve as role model to the former NBA player by giving their all-out effort in practice to sustain the gains they had over the past month.
“Yung defense niya (Orton) malaki. Bagay na bagay sa triangle siya kasi pumoposte lagi, pero alam ko may ilalabas pa siya,” said Pingris.
“Kailangan lang maging model kami sa kanya sa practice kahit kasi anong galing ng import mo, mahirap ang triangle kaya kailangang suportahan namin siya.”