Tim Cone expects relaunch of 'Air Force Ellis' after trade to Blackwater
Tim Cone expects Chris Ellis and Dave Marcelo to get the minutes and the exposure at Blackwater that they never got at Ginebra. 

IN as much as Chris Ellis and Dave Marcelo will be missed by the entire Barangay Ginebra team, Tim Cone believes the move of the two players to Blackwater would be good for the development of their respective careers.

Cone sees the deal between the Kings and the Elite as a ‘win-win’ situation, but most especially to the players involved including Ellis, who hasn't really lived up to his full potential owing to the crowded rotation at Ginebra in his position.

Ellis was at the center of the two-on-two trade initiated by top management of the two franchises on Thursday that saw the former PBA slam dunk champion and Marcelo dealt to Blackwater for sophomore Art dela Cruz and bruiser Raymund Aguilar.

The Ginebra mentor said letting go two of the players who were part of the core that won the franchise’s first championship in eight years during last season’s Governors Cup was a difficult decision to make.

“Hardest part of coaching is making difficult decisions,” admitted Cone to SPIN.ph. “But we felt this trade was good for both the teams and two players we traded away.”

[See Ginebra trades Chris Ellis to Blackwater for Art dela Cruz]

Both Ellis and Marcelo were already with the team when Cone came on board in 2015. Ellis was the Kings’ first round pick in the 2012 draft, while Marcelo was acquired by the team in a complex four-team trade when Frankie Lim was still calling the shots for Ginebra.

Although both have been solid back-ups off the bench, Cone sees the two getting better with their new ballclub, especially the athletic, 29-year-old Ellis.

“Chris will have a chance to go to Blackwater and really spread his wings and realize his potential,” he said of the Fil-Am wingman out of Oceanside, California.

“His athleticism is just what Blackwater seemingly needs,” added the champion coach. “We expect him to really soar there.”

[See Cone, JDV lead tribute to Ellis, Marcelo after trade to Blackwater]

Cone admitted the return of top center Greg Slaughter from injury affected the minutes of Marcelo, a 6-foot-4 banger out of San Beda. And he finds it unfair for the hardworking 28-year-old forward playing on limited time.

“His role significantly changed with Greg Slaughter’s return to the lineup,” Cone said. “But with Blackwater, he should continue to get significant playing time.”

Cone said Aguilar is a fitting addition to Ginebra’s huge frontcourt rotation of Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, and veteran Joe Devance.


As for dela Cruz, he said the Kings are going to patiently wait for him to fully recover from the Achilles tendon injury he suffered with Gilas early this year. The former San Beda star is now in the process of rehabilitation, although he has already joined Blackwater in practice prior to the trade.

“In the meantime, because of our depth, we have the luxury of waiting for Art’s injury to heal and looking to the future,” said the two-time grand slam coach. “We hope he can contribute to Ginebra in the years to come.”

In the end, Cone thanked and wished both Ellis and Marcelo good luck in their new home.

“Tough to say goodbye to those two,” he said. “We will miss them.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos