NORMAN Black knows firsthand how an asset Greg Slaughter can be to a team, having handled the skyscraping slotman in the middle of their dominant five-peat UAAP championship run at Ateneo a few years ago, with the 6-foot-11 center anchoring their 2011 and 2012 title campaigns.
So the current Meralco coach believes Slaughter can have the same impact on Barangay Ginebra despite the Bolts giving the fit-again center a rude reception in his return from injury with a 93-78 victory over the Gin Kings in their PBA Governors’ Cup finals rematch on Sunday night.
“Well, they’re a much bigger team that’s for sure and they’re much bigger than us,” Black said as he commented on how different the Gin Kings are this time. “But I’ll take Greg Slaughter any day and I’m sure coach Tim (Cone) would also.
“I coached Greg for two years in college and won two championships so I know how valuable he is to the team because of his size and his talent,” he added.
Black is preaching patience on the Gin Kings, whose pace slowed down with Slaughter -- unlike in recent tournaments where they have thrived in an uptempo style of play.
“Just give them a chance to regroup,” the Meralco coach said. “They are playing for the first time with Greg for almost a year I think so I’m sure they’ll be able to work things out on their end.”
But don’t get him wrong; as much as he’s optimistic to see the Gin Kings gain better cohesion with Slaughter back in the fold, Black is more focused on his team’s performance as they continue in their bid to get over the hump after falling short against the Gin Kings in the last Governors’ Cup.
“Instead of saying what they (Ginebra) did wrong, I think I like to focus on what we did right (against Ginebra),” Black said. “And my guys really played well defensively. We did have a game plan coming into this game defensively and the guys executed it really well.”
“Obviously Greg is just getting back from injury so they’re trying to get him back in tune with their game,” he added. “At the same it’s our second win and we’re happy to move on... Considering the format where only the top four teams get an advantage in the next round, at this point that’s really our focus.”