BARANGAY Ginebra’s 98-81 win against Blackwater on Friday night turned out to be a virtual warm-up for its anticipated PBA Governors’ Cup matchup against San Miguel Beer just two days later.
The Elite, behind import Bill Walker and local guards Mike DiGregorio and Roi Sumang, stayed within striking distance against the defending champions almost the entire game, before the Gin Kings tightened their defensive screws on the way to breaking away down the stretch.
And Greg Slaughter welcomed the Elite’s challenge ahead of the Gin Kings’ clash against the Beermen on Sunday night.
“We knew this game wasn’t going to be easy coming in,” Slaughter said. “Blackwater won four of their last five, so we knew they were going to be a dangerous team, a lot of their players are really coming up.”
“It was a really tough matchup…kind of got us ready for our game Sunday,” he added after providing a huge spark off the bench on the way to leading the balanced attack with 22 points, eight boards, two assists, and two blocks in 30 minutes.
“But we couldn’t look at San Miguel (right away) because we had Blackwater in front of us,” he continued.
Now that they’ve hurdled their latest roadblock in their title-retention bid, the Gin Kings can set their sights on a tougher challenge in the grand slam-seeking Beermen.
“That’s San Miguel,” Slaughter said. “They’re tough team; they have June Mar, a three-time MVP, they got a finals MVP and BPC in Chris Ross; they got everything, so it’s a tough turnaround for us because we only have one day to prepare.”
“But we’re just going to go out there and really test ourselves and see where it goes from there,” he added.
As exciting as the team matchup that could be a finals preview is the gigantic individual matchup between Slaughter and June Mar Fajardo, although the Ginebra slotman played it down.
“Like all our games, it’s never been about individual matchups,” Slaughter said. “We’re trying to get our team-oriented system going. We’re trying to keep our assists up, so I think we’re more focused on playing our game than looking at individual matchups.”
Slaughter, though, welcomed the challenge of fellow Cebuano Fajardo as he continues his recovery from an ACL injury.
“I just miss playing – period,” Slaughter stressed. “It’s been a year since I got to really play. But it’s definitely…he’s (Fajardo) one of the first people I met since I came out in Cebu. It’s always fun playing against him, always fun getting that challenge, not only him, but the whole San Miguel.
“It’s going to be a really tough test for us,” he added.