GREG Slaughter admitted he has barely scratched the surface of his potential in his first two seasons with Barangay Ginebra in the PBA.
He hopes that would change as Tim Cone takes over the league's most popular team.
“I just hope he can really bring out my potential in helping my team win," the two-year pro out of Ateneo told Spin.ph. "Whether I'd be given a more active role and responsibility, I am ready for that."
Not a few fans expect Slaughter and his fellow Ginebra big men to benefit the most from the arrival from Star of Cone, whose pet triangle offense is anchored on solid play from the frontline players.
It is also no secret that Cone is enamored with skilled big men. Insiders, in fact, revealed Cone had tried to bring the 6-11 Slaughter to Star before he ended up moving to the Kings camp instead.
Slaughter is understandably excited to buckle down to work with the league's most successful coach.
“Definitely I want to be the best player that I can be. I know within myself how much potential I have. It so happened that I haven’t gotten to scratch much of the surface,” said Slaughter.
“I know within myself I got so much more I can be doing, so much more I can improve. And I think I am getting there and coach Tim Cone is just gonna teach the team discipline. That’s the first step towards (success).”
Comparisons with Fajardo have been inevitable since the two behemoths started out as rivals in college back when the SMB center was with University of Cebu and Slaughter was with University of Visayas.
But the rivalry has become one-sided these days in favor of Fajardo, who has won two championships and two MVPs, among many awards, compared to none for Slaughter.
Slaughter, however, insisted his motivation to improve is not to keep up with Fajardo but to bring a long-overdue title to a Ginebra team that has not had one over the past eight seasons.
“June Mar has definitely earned everything that he’s gotten so far. But I don’t feel like there’s any competition for me to prove anything. I am doing it (my role) for the fans of the team,” Slaughter said.
“I just want to win. It’s been eight years that Ginebra hasn’t won a title,” Slaughter added. “Championship is more important to me than any individual awards. That’s the thing that every athlete aspires to win."
Asked if he sees Cone bringing out the best in him, Slaughter was optimistic. He has in fact cancelled his vacation in the US to focus on re-strengthening his injured foot doing pilates and other pre-conditioning routines.
“Definitely, along with (skills) coach (Kirk) Collier who is putting so much work in me, I really love to be in this situation and I am not taking it for granted,” said the top pick overall of the 2013 draft.
Fajardo, for his part, expects Cone to whip Ginebra and Slaughter into fighting form.
“Gamit si Greg dun, tingin ko mas magiging effective siya sa triangle. Maganda yun kasi maipapakita na niya talaga laro niya,” said Fajardo. “Mainam nga yun may mga lalabas na challenges pa.”
PBA legend Kenneth Duremdes has no doubt in his mind that Cone can bring the best out of not just Slaughter but other Ginebra players like Japeth Aguilar and Chris Ellis.
“Maniwala ka sa akin, ang lakas ng Ginebra ngayon. Nakakatakot ang Ginebra ngayon. Kasi Tim Cone 'yan eh. Pag nag-implement ng sistema yan, susunod ang players,” said Duremdes, himself a former player of Cone.
Duremdes even believes that Cone has more ideal pieces in the triangle to work with now than during his time at Purefoods.
“Tingin ko patok na patok sa triangle ni coach Tim ang lineup ng Ginebra. Ang lalaki nyan. Nakakatakot talaga yan pag nakuha ang triangle. Kailangan lang ang players mag-sacrifice sila,” he said.
“Kumpleto ang Ginebra, ang question na lang dyan is kung paano sila agad makaka-adopt sa triangle. Pero alam mo, hindi na bago yan sa kanila, kasi na-introduce na ni (former coach) Jeff (Cariaso) yan eh,” he added.
When that time comes, the former league MVP expects the Slaughter-Fajardo rivalry to be more interesting.
“I won’t be surprised if Greg will finally be giving June Mar a run for his money. It’s going to be a clash of the giants soon - but first, Ginebra must respond to the triangle,” Duremdes said.