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The much-awaited return of Ginebra San Miguel center Greg Slaughter is set – Sept. 9.
That is what Kings head coach Tim Cone revealed Sunday night as Slaughter will rejoin a team that has found success just in time for the playoffs in the season-ending PBA Governors’ Cup.
“We’re expecting him (Slaughter) to play some minutes,” said Cone when Ginebra tackles Mahindra next.
“He’s going to start full practice this week, but he’ll be coming off the bench and he’ll be playing limited minutes.
We’ll be bringing him back slowly. We’re not just going to throw him out there and give him 35 to 40 minutes.”
Cone added: “We’re going to test him and slowly work him into the game.”
The 7-foot Slaughter has missed the team’s first eight games this conference following a surgery during the break to remove bone spurs in his right ankle which has bothered him since his college days.
Prior to surgery, Slaughter has been a solid performer for Ginebra this season, averaging 20.16 points, 11.96 rebounds and 1.36 shot blocks through 25 games in the combined Philippine Cup and Commissioner’s Cup.
The announcement of Cone came moments after the squad rallied back to hand the Star Hotshots a 116-103 defeat at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The win improved Ginebra’s record to 6-2 and, more importantly, earned the Kings a quarterfinal spot as they joined TNT Katropa (6-1) and Mahindra, which also sport a 6-2 card. The popular team is also on track to finish in the top four, which carries a twice-to-beat incentive in the playoffs.
Slaughter has actually started working out on several drills during the team’s practice sessions, but this will be the first time Cone will be bringing him in to join a full scrimmage.
Slaughter said he is excited to join the 5-on-5 and to test his foot as well since it has been nearly three months after he had the surgery.
“I’ll just try to get my rhythm back,” said the former No. 1 overall pick in 2013 and Rookie of the Year awardee. “My ankle gets a little sore when I run on it, but I think that’s just re-adjusting to movements.”
“It’s been a while since I’ve been able to run like that. I think it’s a little weak right now… it should get strong enough soon. I haven’t joined any contact, we’ll see. I’ve been trying to pick up our new offense and everything, getting into the flow of that,” added the 28-year-old Slaughter.
Cone has been using a different system this conference, veering away from the triangle offense and embracing the ‘run-and-gun’ approach that suited the team’s strength.
The new approach of Cone is bringing the best out of his players, including reinforcement Justin Brownlee, and local mainstays Mark Caguioa, LA Tenorio, Japeth Aguilar, Sol Mercado and rookie Scottie Thompson.