Phoenix coach says Ginebra still formidable even without injured Greg Slaughter
Ginebra big man Greg Slaughter faces a long layoff due to what doctors initially fear is a complete ACL tear in his right knee. Gerry Ramos

PHOENIX coach Ariel Vanguardia believes Barangay Ginebra will hardly miss a beat in the PBA Governors’ Cup even with Greg Slaughter set to be sidelined for a while once again.

After managing to have success without Slaughter, who had been out for three months to rest a left ankle that required surgery, the Gin Kings are forced to do the same after the star slotman is feared to have torn his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in his right knee upon his return.

But whether Slaughter is absent or available is irrelevant for Vanguardia, saying the Gin Kings have learned to thrive on coach Tim Cone’s hybrid system that mixes his vaunted triangle offense with n up-tempo attack.

“With or without Greg, I think it’s Tim Cone’s system that’s finally working wonders for Ginebra,” Vanguardia said in a short chat with SPIN.ph after practice on Monday. “They’re a lot more disciplined than when previous coaches handled the team.”

[See Cone confirms initial MRI on Slaughter knee reveals possible ACL tear]

The Fuel Masters brace for the second-running Gin Kings in their matchup on Wednesday night in Antipolo.

“We have to be ready. Brownlee fits them very well,” Vanguardia said, referring to Gin Kings import Justin Brownlee who matches up with a fellow prolific reinforcement in Eugene Phelps.

It’s the Gin Kings’ playmakers in LA Tenorio, Sol Meracdo, and Scottie Thompson, who have particularly fit perfectly when Cone decided to veer away from the Triangle.

“Yung strength nila, yun naman yung weekness namin: at the point guard spot,” said Vanguardia, who leans on relatively unntested playmakers Simon Enciso and Mark Cruz.

“Pero I think sa wings, yun naman yung strength namin,” he was quick to add as his team, sporting an even 5-5 win-loss record, seeks to finish the elimination round above .500 to have a shot at a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals. A loss, however, will endanger their postseason chances.

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“I’m quite positive that we’re going to hurdle this test,” Vanguardia said. “If not, playoff for the last spot (is what we’re aiming for).”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos