by Waylon Galvez
That will change this coming 39th Season of Asia’s first professional league as the Kings are set to select 7-foot center Greg Slaughter with the top overall pick in the PBA Rookie Draft scheduled Sunday afternoon at the Robinson’s Place in Ermita, Manila.
On the night of the annual drafting, Ginebra playmaker LA Tenorio couldn’t hide his excitement of having Slaughter as teammate as the Kings will have somebody to man the middle and be a threat down low.
“Sobrang laking bagay talaga si Greg kung makuha namin sya,” the 5-foot-8 Tenorio told the Bulletin Saturday night.
“We all know naman na we lack a big guy in the middle, so for sure, he will be a big help for us. Hopefully, he can help the team achieve our goals, which is to win championships for Ginebra,” Tenorio added.
After the Kings missed the semifinals of the Philippine Cup, they made the Finals of the import-laden Commissioner’s Cup with Vernon Macklin but were swept in the best-of-five series by Alaska as 6-foot-7 local Sonny Thoss dominated the shaded lane.
Ginebra obtained Japeth Aguilar in a trade with Globalport prior to the season-ending Governors’ Cup, but the 6-foot-7 forward hurt his left knee in his third game. He was able to return and played for a few minutes in the do-or-die game against Talk ’N Text.
As the eighth-seeded team in the quarterfinal playoffs, Ginebra was no match opposite the top seeded Petron Blaze led by 6-foot-10 rookie center June Mar Fajardo.
“It’s pretty obvious what we lacked last season, and that’s what we’ll address so we’re getting a legitimate center,” said Ginebra official Robert Non. “We’re excited to start the season. We know we’ll be more competitive.”
At the moment, aside from Aguilar, Ginebra’s frontline is composed of veterans Billy Mamaril and Willy Wilson, with youngsters Rico Maierhofer and Mac Baracael. The Kings also got JayR Reyes in a trade with Meralco for veteran forward Kerby Raymundo.
To prepare him for the PBA, the former University of the Visayas and Ateneo standout had a month-long extensive training in Virginia, USA.
In the PBA, he will renew his rivalry with fellow Cebuano June Mar Fajardo, the No. 1 overall pick of Petron Blaze in last year’s draft. The 6-foot-10 Fajardo, then a member of University of Cebu, battled Slaughter numerous times during their time at the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI).
Ginebra gets an acid test right on opening day of the PBA Philippine Cup on Nov. 17 when it tackles Governors’ Cup champion San Mig Coffee at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Two other matches will be played in Cebu City and Davao City on opening day.
Rain or Shine and Alaska clash in Davao City at 5 p.m., while Talk ’N Text and Meralco collide also at 3 p.m. in Cebu City but will be televised at 10 p.m.