Blakely to sub for Orton as Purefoods import
Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - January 21, 2015 - 4:40pm

MANILA, Philippines – Three-year NBA veteran Daniel Orton has committed to play for the Purefoods Star Hotshots in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup but only upon the completion of his stint with the Sichuan team in the Chinese Basketball Association.

Purefoods coach Tim Cone said their Governors Cup regular import Marqus Blakely fills in for Orton until the latter becomes available by the first week of February.

The Hotshots play at least a game with Blakely in the mid-season tourney that unwraps Jan. 27 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Purefoods starts its Commissioner’s Cup title defense versus Globalport on Jan. 30 at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Blakely has led Purefoods to three straight Governors Cup finals – winning the last two – but, at 6-foot-4, he’ll be severely handicapped, taking on seven-footers in the second conference.

But help from the well-built Orton will come soon as his Sichuan team in the CBA isn’t expected to make the playoffs. The Blue Whales languish near the bottom of the standings with a poor 5-27 win-loss mark.

Orton hasn’t been able to turn around Sichuan’s fortunes since taking over from Metta World Peace last Dec. 8.

The Kentucky alumnus from Oklahoma, 24, previously played with the Shanxi Zhongyu who are currently in strong contention for the CBA post-elims play.

He drifted to the Chinese league after playing 51 games in three NBA seasons with the Orlando Magic, the OKC Thunder and the Philadelphia Sixers, averaging 2.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, 0.5 assist, 0.5 block and 0.4 steal.

Orton is listed as a 6-foot-10 center, but the Purefoods Hotshots are certain their import prospect will make the 6-foot-9 ceiling.

Denzel Bowles, the team’s original choice, is a tad above the limit.

Bowles and the Hotshots ruled the Governors Cup in its 2013 edition featuring imports of unlimited height. With the limit pegged at 6-foot-9 last year, Purefoods retained the crown with James Mays as reinforcement.

In Orton, the Hotshots will have a wide-bodied 275-pounder who never backs down from a fight.

Last Dec. 22 in a game versus Tianjin, Orton figured in a brawl again Chinese forward Liu Wei after being kicked in the groin with the two down on the floor.

Orton and another Tianjin player took the fight to the stands as seen on a video posted on social media.

As of posting time, only Meralco has yet to name an import.

Signed in are DJ Covington for Alaska Milk, Solomon Alabi for Barako Bull, Michael Dunigan for Ginebra, Chris Charles for Blackwater, CJ Leslie for Globalport, Peter John Lucas for Kia, Al Thornton for NLEX, Rick Jackson for Rain or Shine and Richard Howell for Talk n Text.

San Miguel Beer awaits words from Arinze Onuaku who got a call from the NBA.

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