IMPORT Marqus Blakely proved too much to handle for GlobalPort as he led Purefoods to a smashing 83-70 victory at the start of its PBA Commissioner’s Cup title defense at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Blakely, a stand-in import while Purefoods for original choice Daniel Orton to arrive, scored 26 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and blocked seven shots in a performance that belied his status as the shortest import in the midseason tournament.
Despite playing with a heavily bandaged left shoulder which he dislocated in the first half, the former Best Import awardee led the Hotshots’ 16-0 third-quarter blitz that blew the game wide open, 57-42.
“Feels good to be able to win the first game, it’s been a while,” said Purefoods Star coach Tim Cone, whose team took an early playoff exit in the Philippine Cup.
“Marqus Blakely comes in for us as a warm blanket. We know him so well, and he’s comfortable with all our defensive schemes,” he added.
Cone had a worried look on his face after Blakely apparently dislocated his left shoulder while fighting for ball possession with GlobalPort import CJ Leslie.
But the former Vermon standout managed to pop his left shoulder back.
Cone said Blakely more than made up for the absence of PJ Simon (back spasm) because of his versatility and energy on both ends of the floor.
“He knows our scheme so well. He plays so much bigger than 6-5. In fact, he plays like a 6-9 in terms of rebounding and such, so we just don’t feel like we lose a lot with Marqus here,” said Cone.
Forward Marc Pingris played through a bad back but managed to defend Leslie for 20 minutes. Mark Barroca finished with a near double-double of 11 points and eight rebounds, while Alex Mallari added 10 and four boards.
The Batang Pier, who opened the tournament with a 100-89 win over KIA Motors Carnival, were led by Leslie with 25 points and eight rebounds, while Terrence Romeo added 19.