Marqus Blakely cleared the air surrounding his relegation to Blackwater's injury list, which prompted the team to let Aaron Fuller make his PBA Governors' Cup debut on Friday.
"I'm not injured. I'm perfectly fine. It's just trying to figure out what the next step is as an organization," he said after the Elite's loss to Columbian. "It was just a fairness decision, I think. Having played last game against NorthPort, I think coaches felt like they needed to give Aaron (Fuller) a chance to see if he's healthy, if he's able to play."
Blakely said he "totally" agrees with the Elite's decision to field Fuller, who was sidelined since mid-September owing to an ankle injury.
"I totally agree with it, I understand that it's a business. The deadline for which import [Blackwater will settle with] is coming up. They wanted to be fair about the situation, they me a chance and him a chance. That's what it was," Blakely said.
Such a situation could have easily fostered animosity between Fuller and Blakely, but the former Best Import awardee said there are "no hard feelings" between them as they both wait for the Elite to eventually make a final decision.
"We're both competing for a job, and that's what it is," Blakely said. " I think it's already awkward enough to already have two imports on the team. I've known him before we've been in this situation. I don't want to make it seem like we're fighting or I'm not talking or I'm not being friendly to him."
"We ride home to practice every day. It's not like we don't see each other. We understand the business and the nature of the game, so that's what it is. It's out of our power at that point. That's why I felt like coach had to give him a chance to prove himself just like he gave me a chance to prove myself," he added.
Fuller made a good account of himself by posting 26 points on 10-for-15 shooting to go along with 10 boards, two blocks and a steal in 37 minutes, but Blackwater was not able to overcome a feisty defensive challenge handed out by the Dyip.
"That's one thing I've been preaching to the guys: consistency for 48 minutes. It's not about who can score the most, or anything personal. It's a team sport. I think it kind of showed. I think we only had maybe 15, 16 assists tonight," Blakely noted.
"Hats off to Columbian. They played a very good team game, they had three people over 20. That doesn't come from not playing as a team and it shows you that not just one person has to have the most points. It's about team effort out there," he added.
Asked if he's ready when called upon by Blackwater once more, Blakely (11.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 4.7 blocks and 2.3 steals in three games) provided a quick answer and even made a strong case for his return.
"Yeah, for sure. I think in the last two games that I played -- a strong team in NLEX and only losing to them by six, then winning by two against NorthPort -- kind of put us in the right direction. I think that our energy level and the intangible things in those games picked up and it gave us a chance to try to win," he said.