Barangay Ginebra San Miguel center Greg Slaughter said he wants to use the Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup as his springboard for a possible stint with Gilas Pilipinas for next year’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT).
The 7-foot Slaughter had an impressive season debut – his year in the pro league – as he scored a game-high 28 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in nearly 40 minutes of action though the league’s most popular team lost to the Star Hotshots, 78-86, last Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“It’s a tough first game, and I don’t want to give excuses,” said Slaughter, the PBA’s Rookie of the Year in 2014.
“But it was a tough first game going up against a team that knows the triangle. We just got to take it and learn from it.”
As for the Gilas stint, Slaughter said that the ongoing all-Filipino conference is an opportunity for him to get better and prepare him for a stint with the national team handled by American-kiwi coach Tab Baldwin.
The league’s board – chaired by Robert Non of San Miguel Beer – named Slaughter to the 17-man lineup that will start its Monday training next month and from where Baldwin would select the members of the Gilas squad.
“I’m definitely keeping it at the back of my mind as the conference go by,” said Slaughter. “I want to use the PBA conference to always get better and just prepare for Gilas when that time comes.”
“It’s still a long way but it’s never too early to prepare,” added Slaughter.
The said OQT is set July 5 to 10 next year to be staged in three different places. The country, through the Samahang basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), is bidding for one of the hosting rights of the event.
Gilas missed an opportunity to qualify outright in the Rio Olympics when it lost to host China in the last FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha.
The Nationals though earned a berth in the OQT with the winners from the three venues moving to the Summer Games next year.
For now, however, the former University of the Visayas stalwart said his focus is to help Ginebra improve,
particularly now that they are under a new mentor and system in coach Tim Cone and his ‘triangle offense’.
“It’s going to be a process,” said Slaughter.
“We just got to stay trusting the system (of coach Tim). It’s the first game and – you know – nothing comes right away. We just got to stay focused and dedicated to getting better everyday,” added Slaughter.