OWNING one of the biggest lineups in the pro league just a few conference back, Barangay Ginebra has no choice but to stick to 'small ball' when it eyes redemption in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.
With Greg Slaughter likely to sit out the entire conference and Justin Brownlee on board, the Gin Kings are bound to be at a disadvantage in terms of size in the import-laden conference set to start on March 17.
Brownlee led Ginebra to its first league championship in eight years in last season's Governors Cup but, at a shade below 6-5, will be giving up a couple of inches to fellow imports in a tournament where the height ceiling for reinforcements is 6-10.
The Kings also can't expect any help from the 6-11 Slaughter, who, according to head coach Tim Cone, won't be available to return from knee surgery until the season's final conference.
"He won't be available," Cone said of Slaughter, who watched from the sidelines on Sunday night when Ginebra lost Game Five of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals to San Miguel.
"I dont see him coming back until the third conference. If he comes back earlier, that would be a bonus. Right now, our mindset (for him) is third conference," Cone added.
As far as Ginebra's frontline is concerned, Slaughter's recovery from a knee injury isn't the only issue.
Joe Devance will also be missing time as he's set to go under the knife for a plantar fasciitis tear which he endured during the Philippine Cup playoffs.
Also, there is no certainty on when Jervy Cruz can be back to full fitness after sitting out the last few games of the finals with a shoulder injury.
That leaves Japeth Aguilar, Dave Marcelo and rarely used rookies Jammer Jamito and Jericho de Guzman to hold the fort underneath for Ginebra against the towering imports of the other teams in the Commissioner's Cup.
But at least, Ginebra had plenty of 'small ball' practice in the last Philippine Cup where the league's most popular club rose from No. 7 seeds to finalists behind the heroic plays of Aguilar and Co.
That's something that they should continue doing next conference.
"We'll go out and play. We're gonna be small but we have some ideas at how we're gonna play and we'll work it through, see how it works," said Cone.