TIM Cone felt bad it was he and the Barangay Ginebra Kings who had to slam the playoffs door on Marqus Blakely and the TnT Katropa in the PBA Governors Cup on Sunday.
Then again, that’s basketball.
“I was thinking about Marqus throughout the whole game, thinking that if we beat them, that’s it, he’ll be out. And I felt bad about that,” said the Ginebra mentor of the import who helped give him his second career grand slam.
“But then I kept reminding myself that we got to worry about ourselves,” added Cone. “Sorry to see him go at this point.”
The Kings destroyed the Katropa, 112-93, to deny the TnT franchise a berth in the playoffs for the first time since the 2015 edition of this same conference.
Blakely had a team-high 23 points and 15 rebounds in a losing cause for the Katropa, who went 2-3 with him as their import.
Despite TnT’s ouster, Cone had nothing but praise for Blakely, who was San Mig Coffee’s reinforcement when it bagged the 2014 Governors Cup to complete a rare grand slam.
“This is the first time that I’ve seen him, and greet him and give him a hug,” said Cone, describing his former import as a 'fierce competitor.'
“I have so many, many fond memories of Marqus and how he turned around our program at that time. He came in and played with such heart and intensity and was defensive minded, and kind of turned everybody that way.”
Cone added Blakely was a ‘great influencer with the players around him.”
“You remember the guys. You remember Sean Chambers and Marqus Blakely. Those two guys won grand slams for us,” he said.
Like Cone, Blakely maintains his great respect for his former coach.
“It was good. I haven’t seen him since basically the grand slam,” said the TnT import. “It was good to see him, good to talk to him. Unfortunately, he’s on the other side.”
In as much as he likes to be reunited with Cone, Blakely believes the Kings are now settled having Justin Brownlee for their resident import.
But there’s no denying, Blakely still holds Cone in high regard.
“I miss him, too,” said Blakely giggling.