GREG Slaughter wore a short yellow jersey on top on his red jersey during Ginebra practice on Independence Day as he formed part of the offensive team that simulated the TNT KaTropa offense.
The Gin Kings star slotman was obviously playing the part of Joshua Smith while coach Tim Cone was giving instructions on how the red team – composed of the starting unit of Joe Devance, Japeth Aguilar, Justin Brownlee, Scottie Thompson, and LA Tenorio – can better defend the Texters anchored by the hulking TNT import.
That’s as far a contribution Slaughter can give for now as he’s still undergoing rehabilitation for his healing knee, feeling helpless after seeing Smith throw his weight around in Game One of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series last Sunday.
“It’s just how it’s been for me, but I’ve started something and I need to finish it, so it was unfortunate, the timing, with me coming back just because I could help out more doesn’t mean I’m going to come back,” Slaughter said in a chat with SPIN.ph after practice on the eve of Game Two. “I’m going to come back when I finish the rehab program that I’m doing.”
Still, if he were healthy enough to play, the 6-foot-11 center felt he could’ve made a difference guarding Smith and his 6-foot-9, 330-pound frame.
“Yeah, definitely,” Slaughter said. “But as far as being able to contain him, that’s a very hard order. He’s still got like one hundred pounds even on me. But at least being taller can kind of make it more difficult for him to finish around the hoop, maybe lessen his rebounds.
“(But) you can’t live in a ‘what if’ world,” he was quick to add. “It’s just up to the guys to just try and find a way to make it harder for him to finish around the basket and I think we also need to be able to attack him more and get him involved more on their defense, and try to tire him out.”
Cone admitted that the Gin Kings – the healthy ones that is - “don’t have the players to compete with (Smith) on a one-on-one basis,” but refused to daydream about having Slaughter.
“It’s not worth thinking about,” Cone said. “It’s a ‘what if’ and we can’t deal in ‘what ifs’ right now. We got what’s in front of us and Greg plays no part of this at this point. It just makes me feel sad to think that he’s not there.”
“He’ll be back at some point and we’ll take advantage of his skills and his size when it’s time, but right now, we got to stay in the present and we can’t worry about if we had Greg or not,” he added. “We could’ve said that last conference, too. That didn’t help us thinking about Greg, so I’m not thinking about him now.”
Being on the sidelines, Slaughter can see what the Gin Kings can do better as he felt Smith is hardly challenged on defense.
“I think is he’s getting really relaxed on defense because no one’s really able to attack him,” thee former Ateneo star said. “Being someone who’s been in that situation before, like playing in Ateneo or something, it’s very … comfortable playing when on defense you know … the ball’s not coming your way, no one’s going to be attacking you.
"So that’s just how I think I could help – if I was able to play that is,” he added.