ANTIPOLO CITY - His job officially secured, Marqus Blakely now settles down and move forward with Blackwater.
The former Best Import has finally been the anointed reinforcement by the Elite for the rest of the PBA Governors' Cup, and Blakely amply rewarded the trust by steering the team to a 95-89 win over Magnolia on Wednesday at the Ynares Center.
Blakely finished with 21 points, 13 rebounds, and three assists in the win that raised Blackwater's record at 2-3 and very much in contention for a playoffs berth.
Later after the game, coach Aris Dimaunahan confirmed that Blakely 'will be our import for the rest of the conference.'
That suits Blakely just fine especially after his uncertain status the past weeks that saw him compete for the spot with the injured Aaron Fuller.
'It's a relief just understanding that every day I come to practice, we're building towards playoffs, and there's no more competition," said the 30-year-old Blakely.
He added, 'there's no elephant in the room of who's going to stay or who's going to be the next import.'
Blakely was a last-minute replacement by Blackwater after Fuller suffered a sprain just before the team was about to leave for its East Asia League Terrific 12 campaign.
His stint was later stretched until the first three games of the season's final conference as Fuller has yet to fully recover from the injury.
The Elite though gave Fuller a chance to prove himself and suited up in the team's game against Columbian Dyip, which they lost, 102-90, despite getting 26 points and 10 rebounds from the former NLEX import.
Blakely eventually got the coaching staff's nod after a long, serious deliberation.
"We weighed things out, we had a meeting, we decided, and we opted to go with Marqus Blakely for the rest of the conference," said Dimaunahan.
"And being a coach, I want my players to be healthy all the time, so that's one issue for Aaron Fuller."
With everything finally settled, Blakely said the entire team can now focus on the task at hand.
"I think it will be easier on everybody's mind to build chemistry at this point," said the import, who won two championships with the Purefoods franchise, including its grand slam season in 2014.
"For me, and for I think the players, it's a little bit easy sleeping at night. We know which direction we're going for the rest of the conference," he added. "If we continue to build on this, we'll be good." (RG)