MAGNOLIA Pambansang Manok had a surprise well-wisher in the middle of its quest for the PBA Philippine Cup championship.
Former Best Import Marqus Blakely dropped by the Hotshots’ practice on Wednesday at the Ronac Gym in San Juan to see his ex-teammates as they gear up for Game 3 of the best-of-seven title series against defending champion San Miguel Beer.
The 29-year-old import spent some time with the team, and later on had his photo taken with point guard Mark Barroca shortly after practice.
“Bumisita lang siya sa practice namin,” said Barroca when contacted by SPIN.ph. “Nagbakasyon lang siya dito saglit kasi kakatapos lang ng liga nila sa Korea.”
The 6-foot-5 Blakely still plays for the Busan KT Sonicboom in the Korean Basketball League (KBL), and took advantage of the free time after the team failed to make the playoffs.
Long-time franchise liason Jojo Peralta said Blakely, a product of Vermont, came to the practice without notice.
“Bigla na lang pumunta sa practice namin galing Korea,” he said. “But it’s always good to see him.”
The presence of Blakely immediately sparked speculations he could be up for another tour of duty with the Purefoods franchise in the season-ending Governors Cup. The Hotshots are set to parade Verno Macklin in next month’s Commissioner’s Cup.
Barroca has no idea about it as all that matters for the Hotshots at the moment is their best-of-seven title series against the Beermen, which is currently tied at 1-1 heading to Sunday’s Game 3 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Hindi ko alam, e. Basta ang focus namin ngayon is the finals and siyempre, yung next conference,” he said.
Blakely previously had six stints with the Purefoods franchise from 2012 to 2016, culminating in a pair of championships including the 2014 Governors Cup that capped the team’s historic grand slam under then coach Tim Cone.
He was adjudged Best Import of the 2013 Governors Cup when the Hotshots defeated the Beermen in Game 7 of the finals during June Mar Fajardo’s rookie season.
Among his teammates then who remain with the Hotshots include Mark Pingris, Barroca, Peter June Simon, Ian Sangalang, and Justin Melton.
His last stint with the team was in the 2016 edition of the season-ending meet, where he was eventually replaced by Joel Wright after the wins were hard to come by for the Hotshots under former coach Jason Webb.