AS much as Barangay Ginebra badly needs at this point a big body in the mold of a Greg Slaughter in its PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals encounter against TnT Katropa, the Kings are aware they just have to compete with what they currently have.
The pressing need for Slaughter’s services was brought up in the discussion as the Kings were left without an antidote against the Texters’ mammoth import Joshua Smith, also known as 'Jumbotron.'
Smith was a dominant force inside for TnT, dropping 35 big points in defying the defense of Japeth Aguilar, Dave Marcelo, and Joe Devance during the Texters’ 100-94 win in Game One of the best-of-five series at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday night.
The 6-11 Slaughter was in uniform but watched the action from the bench as he continues to recover from an ACL injury that has sidelined him for three straight conferences now – or equal to a full season.
Aguilar, who finished with 15 points and five rebounds while working double time taking on the 6-foot-10 Smith, would have loved to have Slaughter around, but knows the Kings will have to do without his 'twin towers' partner - for now.
“Would have, could have, should have,” he said about missing Slaughter’s presence. “Ito na yung binigay sa amin, so we (just) have to work on it.”
There was no denying Smith was a force to reckon with, according to Aguilar.
“Not only is he heavy, but he’s wide talaga, so yun ang advantage niya sa rebound,” said the Ginebra big man of Smith, who also had 13 rebounds. “Kahit madikit ka na sa kanya, dahil wide yung body niya, talagang hindi mo ma-challenge na maabot yung bola.
“Mabigat talaga. Yung chance mo lang talaga sa kanya is yung full denial (ng bola).”
Yet despite Smith’s sheer dominance, Ginebra made an effort to rally from a 64-49 deficit to close within three several times, the last at 97-94 before Jayson Castro hit a dagger three with 12 seconds left that stretched the lead to six and clinched the win for the Texters.
Aguilar admitted the Kings failed to get into any rhythm following their slow start.
“I think hindi lang si Smith, but they really did a good job of controlling the tempo,” he said.
The lanky forward added it's definitely back to the drawing boards for the Kings as they try not to fall into a 0-2 hole come Game Two on Tuesday.