RUDY Hatfield feels it's time for a changing of the guard at Barangay Ginebra, saying 'Twin Towers' Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar are ready to inherit the responsibility as the Kings' go-to guys.
The former Ginebra workhorse believes the current roster is not getting any younger and that the league's most popular ballclub should start building its team around the 6-11 Slaughter and the 6-9 Aguilar.
“Absolutely," Hatfield told Spin.ph from his home in Michigan when asked if Slaughter and Aguilar represent the future of the franchise. "I think they were already doing it.
“The other all-Filipino conference, they played well, they even finished first runner-up in the succeeding conference. It’s because you have guys like Japeth and Greg Slaughter that time.
“Those two guys, obviously you got to play them and work around them as much as you can and then you fill the gap. LA (Tenorio is still there, and Mark (Caguioa) are still there.
“Currently the PBA is on import conferences, so you rely on your reinforcements. But when the all-Filipino conference comes, you have to build around Japeth and Greg, and get guys you can fill in the spot around them.
“That’s what you should do (to make the team competitive). You have to build around those two guys."
Hatfield also welcomed unconfirmed reports that Ginebra are looking to bring in high-scoring guard Terrence Romeo and top rookie pick Stanley Pringle by way of trades, saying it will make the team a lot younger.
“I read that they work and planning it. Bu ti heard it wasn’t a sure thing, but I hope it will happen,” said Hatfield, who revealed he continues to follow news about the PBA, especially about Ginebra, from his new base.
“But if they end up getting those guys (Pringle and Romeo) for whatever reasons, that is gonna be fantastic. Those guys are great, they can complement the two bigs already,” he said.
Hatfield also believes current Ginebra flagbearers Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand are mature enough to accept any change within the team.
“If these great guys come in, I don’t think Mark and Jayjay will have any kind of problem supporting those two guys. I don’t think at all,” Hatfield said.
Hatfield used to be one of Ginebra’s dominant forces in the middle, playing a major role in the Kings' conquest of the 2006-2007 Philippine Cup as well as its last championship run in the 2008 Fiesta Conference.
The hard-banging former University of Michigan Dearborn star is now based in the US, where he works as a textbook agent for a company called Cengage Learning.
“I work in the field, going to different college and universities, I am more of a salesman now. I go in there and persuade them to buy our texbooks. It’s pretty cool though,” he said laughing.
Hatfield said the itch to play of Ginebra is still there.
“If I was able to comeback, I would. But my family needs me here. That’s the dilemma. But my wife wants to come back there in the Philippines if we’ll have a chance,” said Hatfield, who is also a missionary for his church in Kalamazoo, Michigan.