The big boys have come to play. Well, at least, that’s for Barangay Ginebra.
There was Japeth Aguilar swatting away enemy missiles. And then, of course, top rookie pick Greg Slaughter holding his own against San Mig’s seasoned veteran big men led by Marc Pingris, Rafi Reavis and Yancy de Ocampo.
Aguilar and Slaughter, on Sunday, did their home work, using their size to score inside and making sure they play defense and grab the rebounds, leading to the crowd favorite’s 86-69 shellacking of San Mig Coffee.
The 6’11” Slaughter said he’s happy to help his team win, and even happier to see the legion of Ginebra fans sporting big smiles at the end of the game.
Of course, one can’t deny the outstanding off-the-bench role of Dylan Ababou, the former University of Santo Tomas star, who has spent much of last season recovering from an ACL tear on his knee, rather than on the floor.
Ababou, a former Smart Gilas mainstay, scored all 16 of his points in the second half, helping the Gin Kings turn what was once a 12-point deficit into a huge 17-point season-opening win.
Despite the big victory against a legitimate title contender, Ginebra coach Ato Agustin said that’s just one win, expecting the road to winning an all-Filipino championship as long and hard.
Ginebra still has to go through other championship-caliber squads like Petron Blaze, Rain or Shine, and Alaska while Talk ‘N Text, the defending champion, won’t surrender its title on a silver platter
And you can’t even discount the fact that Meralco, Air21, Globalport and Barako Bull are all capable of pulling off upsets at any given night.
As for Slaughter, he managed to get his first W at the expense of San Mig’s pool of veterans. Now, he said, his goal, is to keep getting better and better.
And once he does, that’s good news for Ginebra and bad news for the rest of the teams in the league.