MANILA, Philippines – Purefoods head coach Tim Cone has decided to give American import Daniel Orton more time to acclimate himself to the Star Hotshots’ system, opting to play temporary import Marqus Blakely instead on Friday’s, February 6 game versus the Blackwater Elite.
Cone confirmed to Rappler the decision, as last season’s Grand Slam champions had to bring in Blakely, the 2013 PBA Governors’ Cup Best Import, for a few games while waiting for Orton to finish his stint with the Sichuan Blue Whales in the Chinese Basketball Association.
Orton, 24, arrived just last Tuesday, February 3, joined team practice the following day and was in the stands during Purefoods’ win over Alaska.
The NBA veteran reportedly made the conference height requirement of 6-foot-9.
Cone is giving Blakely one more go in the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup days before his one-month contract expires on February 13. He will be facing fellow temporary import Marcus Douthit, who is filling in for the injured 7-footer Chris Charles
The energetic Blakely, who has been with the franchise for the past 4 seasons and has led them to two Governors’ Cup titles, kicked his game up a notch this conference as he averaged 22 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 blocks to lead Purefoods to a much-needed 2-0 start.
“Maybe he’s a little bit more motivated, wanting to prove that he can play with the big guys,” Cone said of Blakely, adding that he’s helped the team accomplish their short-term goal.
“That’s really been our immediate goal, to get early momentum in this conference. So far so good, hopefully we get a third win on Friday.”
Meanwhile, Orton will have 5 more days to understand and settle into Purefoods’ triangle offense and their defensive sets as the Hotshots’s next game will be on Wednesday, February 11 against the NLEX Road Warriors.
“I’ve scouted him before. I know what kind of player he is. Now it’s just a matter of how we fit in,” the 18-time PBA champion coach explained. “I know what kind of guy he is and we have a vision for him so we’ll see. It’s just a matter of imparting that vision quickly enough.”
“No matter what happens, it’s a difficult situation but it’s a nice situation, this thing between Daniel and Marqus. But a hundred percent Marqus will be here through the third conference,” Cone added. – Rappler.com
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