IMPORT Marqus Blakely suits up in his farewell game for Purefoods in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup as original choice Daniel Orton is set to arrive in the country on Tuesday.
But Blakely - and the Hotshots – will definitely have his hands full as the team will have no less than the Alaska Aces for its opponent at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Game time is 7 p.m.
Blakely, the shortest import in the mid-season tournament at a shade under 6-5, debuted in style for the Hotshots by compiling 26 points, 19 rebounds, and seven block shots to anchor the team’s 83-70 win over GlobalPort last week.
But even with a motivated Blakely, coach Tim Cone is aware it wouldn’t be easy going up against the Aces, who routed them in their sole meeting during the Philippine Cup, 93-73.
“We know, we’re very aware of that (20-point beating to Alaska),” Cone said.
He added playing the Aces are much tougher now, considering they are coming off a runner-up finish in the all-Filipino conference.
“It’s always tougher to play the runner-ups than the champions,” said the league’s only two-time Grand Slam coach.
“The runner-ups are still always motivated to go on the next conference. Walang kampante.”
On the other hand, Alaska coach Alex Compton said playing Purefoods requires more than just talent.
“They (Hotshots) have the winningest coach in the history of the league with an import who knows their system and the players in and out,” noted Compton, whose team came a win short of beating San Miguel for the season-opening title.
“We will just come out and play hard and hope to give ourselves a chance.”
Alaska will be reinforced by former Virginia Military Institute defensive stalwart DJ Covington but will be without Sonny Thoss, who is out indefinitely with a foot injury.
Covington, listed at 6-foot- 9, won the Big South Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 and 2014, averaging 20 points and close to 10 rebounds as a senior for the VMI Keydets.
Undrafted in the NBA in 2014, Covington went on to play for Basic-Fit Brussels in Belgium last May.