by Jonas Terrado
Greg Slaughter picked up where he left off from his Best Player of the Conference performance in last season’s PBA Governors’ Cup with a double-double performance in Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s Christmas Day victory over the Magnolia Hotshots.
Slaughter’s 24-point, 12-rebound, four-block output in the 89-78 victory over the Hotshots at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan seemed like an indication that the 7-foot center, whose last two seasons have been marred by injuries, is poised for the best season of his five-year career.
It may also give more warning signs for rival teams already having difficulty facing talented centers like Slaughter.
“I understand that I have a big responsibility now,” said Slaughter, referring to his increased role in the PBA Philippine Cup after Ginebra’s title run in last season’s third conference with Justin Brownlee.
“With one conference behind me after my injury, I feel like I’m back feeling comfortable with everything,” he added. “Last conference we won the championship with Justin, that’s great. But now that we’re without him, we’ve got to step up and I’m ready to take on that role.”
He also said that having a good collection of talent at Ginebra has made him job easier, particularly with Japeth Aguilar getting his good share of work in the paint and LA Tenorio stabilizing the offense with his play at the guard spot.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone sees Slaughter’s opening act as probably a sign of things to come.
“People don’t remember that two years ago in the all-Filipino, he was leading the league in scoring and rebounding. He was just having an awesome conference until he decided to have surgery,” said Cone, who saw Slaughter miss almost a year after the 2016 Philippine Cup after injuries to his ankle and knee.
“This is really his conference. He’s the only real answer to (San Miguel’s) June Mar (Fajardo), so we’re fortunate to have him,” added Cone.
The Kings seek their second win this Sunday when they play the GlobalPort Batang Pier in the resumption of the Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.