Blakely for Barangay Ginebra? It could have happened, bares Cone
MANILA, Philippines – If not for Justin Brownlee, Marqus Blakely could have been the import reinforcing Barangay Ginebra.
Gin Kings head coach Tim Cone revealed on Wednesday, October 31, that he thought of bringing in Blakely for the 2016 PBA Governors' Cup given the success they had while working with each other.
The two won a rare Grand Slam in 2014 back when they were still with the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers, so it was a no-brainer for Cone to bring in Blakely.
But Blakely was still with the Star Hotshots and Barangay Ginebra already had Brownlee, who went on to deliver a championship in that conference and the Gin Kings' next two titles in the last two seasons.
"I would have brought him back for Ginebra, honestly, except we picked up Justin," Cone said after Barangay Ginebra hacked out a 101-93 win over Blakely and Blackwater in the Governors' Cup.
"Once we got Justin, we weren't going to change him – I'm sorry Marqus – but for no one. Because the year we got Justin, Marqus was still playing with Purefoods."
"And then he got changed. And then he became free. We could've picked him up but by that time, we already had Justin. Funny how fate happened. We could have easily had Marqus as our import."
Blakely was let go by Star – now Magnolia – after 4 games in that conference and he went on to play for the TNT KaTropa and the Elite in the past two seasons.
However, Blakely did not have the same success he had with Cone with his last two teams as TNT missed the playoffs in the 2018 Governors' Cup and Blackwater looks headed for an early vacation this season.
Still, Cone said Blakely remains one of the top imports behind his across-the-board production, which often ends up unnoticed.
"I think Marqus gets underappreciated for all the things he does on the floor," said Cone, who exchanged a few words with Blakely after the game.
"Everybody's looking for those big scoring numbers, but if you add up all those numbers and you give each one of them two points – the steals, the blocks, the rebounds, the assists – he's outscoring almost all the other imports."
Cone also praised Blakely for his amiable personality.
"He's such a terrific player and terrific person. You see him on the court, he argues a lot, he gets mad, but that's him on the court. Off the court, he's just a brilliant, brilliant, nice person. Nice guy." – Rappler.com