Three games into the PBA’s 41st season, Greg Slaughter is posting monster stats of 27.3 points and 20.3 rebounds.
These are MVP-like numbers, no doubt, but his averages failed to prevent Barangay Ginebra from limping off to a 1-2 start under new coach Tim Cone.
Heading into Sunday’s expected blockbuster game at the Philsports Area, Cone was the first to admit that a Greg Slaughter-June Mar Fajardo matchup is exciting since both big men are evenly matched at the post.
“Greg vs. June Mar is always exciting, but we have to make sure we don’t stand around and watch those two play,” noted Cone, the league’s all-time winning coach with 18 PBA titles.
The 6-foot-10 Fajardo carries an impressive credential heading into his fourth year as a pro, having led San Miguel to two championships last season, while winning his second straight MVP plum.
On the other hand, Slaughter lags behind as far as PBA accomplishments is concerned.
His first two years as a pro ended in disappointment as Barangay Ginebra, despite its stacked-up roster from the guard spot to front court, performed below par, reaching the semifinals just once in the last six conferences.
It is no wonder the big man out of Ateneo has worked his tail off in the offseason under conditioning and assistant coach Kirk Colier, resulting to his solid start this season.
He has been a strong inside force in Ginebra’s first three games in the Philippine Cup, but as a team, Ginebra is still groping under Cone’s patented triangle offense.
And for Cone, getting gigantic numbers from ‘Gregzilla’ won’t guarantee victory.
Instead, Cone believes there are two important things that must happen on Sunday in order for Ginebra to register its first back-to-back wins for the season–bench production and strong fan support.
“We need to get a better balance in our scoring and more production from the bench,” said Cone, who clinched his first win as Ginebra’s coach following the team’s 93-92 squeaker over Alaska in Dubai last week.
“I’m hoping the Gin King fans come out in droves. We need it loud and noisy if we’re going to beat SMB.”
Cne has spoken. Ginebra players and the fans will just have to take the cue from there.