By Jerome Lagunzad
Barangay Ginebra is thrilled to have towering center Greg Slaughter back in its fold, but the Gin Kings know they need to make some necessary adjustments – especially on the offensive end.
Multi-titled coach Tim Cone, however, is hardly worried, confident that the 7-foot Slaughter will be one of his main weapons against the pro league’s familiar titans – led by reigning three-time MVP June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer – once he has regained his actual footing within the triangle system.
And Ginebra surely wants to sustain its progress with Slaughter as its new focal point of offense today when the Gin Kings take on the skidding Kia Picanto in the resumption of the 2017 PBA Governors Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Tip off is at 4:15 p.m., with Ginebra seeking to come up with a fitting follow-up to an impressive 124-108 victory over GlobalPort last Sunday and keep itself at the upper-half of the 12-team field which has Picanto at the tail-end with three straight losses.
All eyes will be on Slaughter, who’s been flashing his dominance of old in the lane underscored by his game-averages of 16.5 points built around a percent shooting from the field on top of 11.0 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 1.5 assists against 1.0 turnover in less than 29 minutes of play.
And an ample share of credit should be given to Cone, who has seamlessly fit the former Ateneo star back in through his old yet proven formula made famous by American mentor Tex Winter, a long-time deputy of 11-time NBA champion coach Phil Jackson.
“We visited the triangle a little bit more, because the triangle is such a great post offense,” admitted Cone, who is utilizing Slaughter and other Ginebra big men as top offensive options more than just “rim protectors and screeners.”
“Our bigs need the ball, and they need to be in position. They need to get the ball down low and have an opportunity to score, and that’s what the triangle is good at,” he said. “Now that we have him, (Slaughter), the triangle is really better for us at this point. It really rewards Greg out on the floor.”
As impressive as he has been so far in terms of his comeback from a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in his right knee that hampered him for almost 10 months, Slaughter feels he still has a lot of room for improvement, something that should only keep their rivals more worried.