Marqus Blakely’s return to the Philippine Basketball Association was unfortunately cut short at the hands of his former mentor Tim Cone.
His current team, the TNT KaTropa, suffered a 93-112 loss against Cone and the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel to kiss their playoffs hopes goodbye in the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup on Sunday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
And until now, Blakely could not explain how he felt, especially after absorbing a heartbreaker from his father figure here in the PBA.
“I really don’t know how I feel just yet,” said Blakely on being at the rare receiving end of a Cone victory.
Back in 2013-2014 PBA Season, Cone and Blakely formed possibly the greatest coach-import combo in league history, steering the then-San Mig Coffee (now Magnolia) to an epic four-conference title run, including a historic grand slam.
Dubbed as Mr. Everything, Blakely accounted for two of those four championships, highlighted by a Best Import award in his first conference with the Purefoods franchise in the 2013 season-ending conference.
But they have gone different ways since then as Cone transferred to Ginebra in 2015 – the same year Blakely made a return to then-Star Hotshots (now Magnolia) under then-head coach Jason Webb.
It was actually the first meeting for the two since then and Cone was also remorseful that Blakely’s exit had to come through his team.
“I was thinking about Marqus the whole game. That’s it, he’ll be out. I felt about that but I kept reminding myself that you know, we gotta worry about ourselves,” said Cone, who won five championships with the Purefoods franchise before his transfer to sister team Ginebra.
“It’s sorry to see him go this way. I just told him, ’Sorry, it had to be us.’”
Still, Cone’s respect, admiration, gratitude and love to Blakely outweighed everything.
“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. He’s defensive-minded and he turned everybody that way and how we played. He’s a great influencer,” he said.
“He won us a grand slam. You remember the guys. You remember Sean Chambers and Marqus Blakely. Those guys won grand slams for us.”
Blakely’s sentiment was the same for his first mentor who trusted him in the Philippines.
“It was good. I haven’t seen him since basically the Grand Slam so you know, it’s just good to see him, talk to him. Unfortunately, he was on the other side. We just talked for a little moment,” expressed the 2013 Governors’ Cup Best Import.
“I miss him, too.”
For now, the 30-year old Blakely can only hope for another tour of duty in the PBA, regardless if it will be on Cone’s side again or not.
“It’s not my choice but hopefully, I’ll be back. Which team, I don’t know where. I’ll always love to come back and play in the PBA.”
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