PUREFOODS coach Tim Cone expects back-up big guys Rafi Reavis, Mick Pennisi, and young Yousif Taha to hold the fort for the team until NBA veteran Daniel Orton comes over and reinforced the Hotshots in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
With Orton only available to play by next month, the Hotshots are making do with resident import Marqus Blakely, who will be the smallest reinforcement in a tournament that offers a height limit of 6-foof-9.
That’s why Cone said it’s imperative for Reavis and Co. to play crucial roles for the team while it awaits the arrival of Orton.
“Taha and Mick and Rafi, as long as Marqus is here, they have really important roles for us. They have to hold their position and not be overpowered (by bigger imports),” Cone told Spin.ph.
“It’s not an easy thing for them, but their roles are crucial.”
Orton, who is expected to fit within the 6-foot-9 height restriction, is just finishing his contract with the Sichuan Blue Whales in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), where he replaced Metta World Peace last month.
“Marqus hopefully will create mismatches on his own right because of his quickness. And we’ll try to handle mismatches on big imports with Yousif, Mick, and Rafi.
“But we just felt Daniel Orton was worth waiting for because he couldn’t come in any sooner,” explained the league’s only two-time Grand Slam coach.
Orton, who played for Kentucky, was selected 29th overall by the Orlando Magic in the 2010 NBA Draft.
He had brief stints with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Magic, before taking his act to China.
Cone said Orton’s already in his radar since last year due to his ability to play the center spot who could provide the solid inside presence for the Hotshots as they try to defending their title in the mid-season conference.
“When Daniel comes in, he will fill in that five position and then, we’ll try to work on those guys (Taha and Co.) at the four position,” he added.
Cone also thanked Blakely this early for making a sacrifice of flying to Manila, even though he knows he will just be a stand-by import.
“I asked Marqus to do me a favor, to make it here for one month, and now he’s making the sacrifice to help us out, then go home to the US, and come back for the Governors Cup,” said the American mentor.
“I think it’s a good plan. Marqus is a player who can elevate the emotions of the team. We needed someone who can give us a boost.”
Purefoods is out to redeem itself after failing to defend the Philippine Cup championship after losing to Meralco during the first round of the playoffs.