ANTIPOLO CITY - The feeling was surreal for Marqus Blakely going up against a team he helped lead to new heights just a few seasons back.
"It was bitter sweet," said Blakely as he described his feeling going up against former ballclub Magnolia on Friday night in the main game of the PBA Governors Cup double-header at the Ynares Center.
You don't like losing to anybody, but you also don't like losing to a team you used to play with. But it is what it is," said the veteran import. "When you play basketball, it's different. Before the game, we'll be cool. But when the ball goes up, we're enemies."
Blakely found himself on the losing end against the Hotshots in a 115-103 setback that hurt TNT's chance at a berth in the quarterfinals, putting to naught the import's triple double of 17 points, 18 rebounds, and 11 assists.
While the game was a bit intense, Blakely was seen after the game approaching his former Magnolia teammates like Mark Barroca and Marc Pingris, with whom the import won a grandslam in 2014 under Tim Cone.
Both Blakely and Pingris admitted they stayed in touch all these years.
"That's my brother, that's my guy," Blakely said of Pingris, who ia currently on Magnolia's injury list. "Everybody's my guy on that team."
Added Pingris, "Nag-grand slam naman kami dahil din naman sa kanya e. Kahit sa ibang team siya naglalaro, family pa rin yung turingan namin."
"Kanina nung nakita ko siya, nakaka-miss din yung samahan," said the veteran forward, who was even personally visited by Blakely when he was undergoing therapy in the U.S. early this year.
Blakely though has to set emotions aside as there is more pressing matter to think off especially as far as TNT's playoff bid is concerned.
"Our next game, we have to treat it like a playoff game, win or go home," he said of the Katropa's crucial match against defending champion Barangay Ginebra in the final day of eliminations on Nov. 4.
"I think the realization will set in, and the eagerness might be there and hopefully, we come out with a win."