As he rounds into top form, Greg Slaughter savors shot at first career PBA championship
Greg Slaughter sat out last year's Governors Cup finals owing to injury. Jerome Ascano

BACK in his first conference after a year-long layoff, Greg Slaughter is thrilled to be playing in his first PBA Finals for Barangay Ginebra.

And Meralco’s Jared Dillinger will be there to welcome him in his championship debut in the Governors Cup title series that gets rolling this Friday at the Quezon Covention Center in Lucena City.

Dillinger, Slaughter and Joe Devance had a friendly banter on Twitter after Meralco was eliminated by sister-team TnT Katropa in the quarterfinals of the Commissioner’s Cup.

The win by the Katropa set them up for a semifinal duel with the Kings, who the 33-year-old Dillinger later referred to as 'guys he can’t stand.'

Now the stage has been set for a Meralco-Ginebra finals rematch as what Dillinger had wished for when the Bolts completed a three-game sweep of the Star Hotshots in the semis to make it back in the championship round.

“Yeah, I’ll see him, too,” quipped a smiling Slaughter when asked about the long-awaited meeting with the Meralco Fil-Am guard.

Ginebra coach Tim Cone is also aware of the Twitter exchange between his players and Dillinger, but made it clear the Kings have no ax to grind against the Bolts.

“Dillinger has come out a dozen of times on social media telling how much they hate us,” noted the 59-year-old champion coach. “I don’t think we hate them.”

Slaughter is also not about to jump into a psy war with Dillinger, stressing he’s focused on helping the Kings repeat as champions especially after failing to suit for the team in last year’s finals due to an ACL injury.

“I’m really excited because I’m just coming back and this is my first finals in the PBA,” said the Ginebra center, who had 21 points, nine rebounds, and two block shots in Ginebra’s series-clinching win over TnT Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, 115-105.

“It’s awesome. All of us are on board (right now),” he added. “When we won last year, I felt great. Hopefully (with me playing), we can just repeat this year.”

Slaughter said he’s more focus on helping the Kings win back-to-back titles more than going after the Best Player of the Conference award, which he’s hotly contesting with Meralco’s Chris Newsome, a former Atenean like himself.

“If I win it, I’ll be happy, but throughout my whole career, I’ve always been seeking championships,” he said.

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Slaughter said he’s not yet 100 percent back in shape after undergoing operation and rehabilitation from his ACL injury, but that won’t stop him from going out there and giving Ginebra the boost it needed.

“I still have a lot of work to do, but I hope to contribute a lot,” the Ginebra stalwart said. “Hopefully, from here we’ll get better and better as a team.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos