COACH Tim Cone finally hit the switch, sending Daniel Orton in place of Marqus Blakely as Purefoods battles NLEX on Wednesday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots, the defending champions in the mid-season conference, have won three straight to start the season behind Blakely’s solid numbers of 22.0 points, 14.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.6 blocks.
The 6-foot-4 Blakely had been the team’s fastbreak anchor and defensive ace, and Cone hopes the change to Orton would require little adjustment for the locals.
“We’ve had a few days to integrate Daniel into our offense and defense,” said Cone, on the eve of Purefoods Star’s 7 p.m. match against NLEX (0-2).
“He has integrated well so we’re hoping we can continue to build on the momentum of our first three wins.”
With the 6-foot-9 Orton, Purefoods Star can expect a solid inside presence who could easily matchup with NLEX’s huge frontline combination of Asi Taulava and former NBA veteran Al Thornton.
Cone actually noted that the Road Warriors’ winless start this conference belies their potential.
“NLEX has played much better than their record indicates because with Thornton, they are very explosive,” he added.
On the other hand, NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez said he expects little change in Purefoods Star’s pace, despite Orton’s size.
“Maganda ang nilalaro ng Purefoods, but even with their new import, I think they can still run,” said Fernandez.
“Ang difference lang, so Daniel Orton can make an outlet pass right away kapag nakuha niya ang rebound, di kagaya ni Marqus na siya mismo kaya niyang magbaba ng bola, so we have to be ready for that,” he added.