Ginebra needs a healthy Slaughter as equalizer against 'monster' SMB, says Cone
Ginebra coach Tim Cone hugs former player James Yap shortly after the Kings bundled out Rain or Shine from the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs. Jerome Ascano

AS a battle against reigning champion San Miguel looms in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals, Barangay Ginebra has some immediate concerns beginning with the health of big man Greg Slaughter.

Coach Tim Cone admitted the Kings ought to have the seven-foot Slaughter in the middle to have a good shot at toppling the three-time title holders in their best-of-seven series that kicks off this weekend.

The Kings set up their grudege match against the Beermen after turning back Rain or Shine, 99-91, for a sweep of their quarterfinals series on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Slaughter sat out both playoff games owing to a sprained ankle, although Cone was quick to acknowledge the Kings won’t have the same luxury against a power-laden team like the Beermen.

“That’s a big thing for us, whether Greg can play and help us equalize against San Miguel,” said Cone.

Austria was at ringside of the Big Dome to watch Game 2 of the Ginebra-Rain or Shine series, just a day after his team advanced to the semis of the all-Filipino conference for the fourth straight year by ousting TnT Katropa on Tuesday, 106-93.

Although the Katropa gave the reigning champion a scare, it was obvious which was the better team as the Beermen got 35 big points and 11 rebounds from four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo.

“We have to relax, recharge, and recover,” said Austria. “It’s a best-of-seven (series), so we have a lot of time to prepare.”

Cone hopes he can say the same thing for his team especially regarding Slaughter’s status.

“And now we face the monster and that’s San Miguel. You can refer that to San Miguel or you can refer that to June Mar. I don’t know what you do with that but we have them coming up,” said Cone, whose team lost to the Beermen in the finals of the same conference last season.


He noted how Fajardo was dominant against a TnT side which played a very good game, and yet was ‘outsteadied by them.’

“So our big question mark is if Greg would play,” added the 60-year-old mentor. “If we play the day tomorrow, I would say he won’t play. But given another day or two, he may play.

“But we do expect him to be back sometime in the series.”

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