MANILA, Philippines – Marqus Blakely yearns for another crack in the PBA, and if it were up to him, he wants to return to the team he had the most successful stint.
Blakely hopes to serve as import for Magnolia again after his last two PBA stints ended in frustrating elimination-round exits in the Governors' Cup, the first with TNT and the latest with Blackwater.
"Making me choose favorites, huh? I'm not going to choose a specific team. (coughs) Magnolia (coughs)," he told reporters with a smile when asked what team he wants to suit up for if he gets called up again.
"But, you know, whatever happens, happens, and hopefully I can come back here in the PBA and play," Blakely added.
The 31-year-old was at the top of his game during his time with the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers – now the Magnolia Hotshots – as he steered the team to the Governors' Cup crowns in 2013 and 2014.
He was also named Best Import of the Conference in 2013 and helped the franchise secure a rare Grand Slam in 2014.
The same could not be said in his recent tours of duty in the PBA, with the KaTropa narrowly missing the quarterfinals at 9th place in 2018 and the Elite winding up at 12th and last place this season.
Although finishing dead-last is not an enticing reason for him to come back, Blakely said he would never turn down an offer to play in the country.
"I hope not, I really hope not," said Blakely on the possibilty of playing his last PBA conference. "But if it is, it's been nothing but love to come out here and play. Hopefully a team will have me back next Governors' Cup."
"You never pick the time to quit. The game will tell you when it's time to quit. I think I still have a few more years in me."
"Talking to other imports, this is the place where basketball is that big. You play in front of crowds and fans that are eager to watch the game. When it comes to playing all over Asia – Japan, Korea – I love the Philippines."
"At any time, I will come back here."
Blakely, who averaged 18.0 points, 13.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 3.5 steals, and 2.9 blocks in the Governors' Cup this season, added teams could benefit from his experience and leadership.
"I think just getting younger people that have just gotten to the PBA or talking to veterans or getting involved underneath one wing is what I'm good at." – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.