THIS is the time Barangay Ginebra needs the services of Greg Slaughter more than ever.
With either Meralco or TnT Katropa looming ahead for the Kings in the playoffs of the PBA Commissioner Cup, coach Tim Cone has called out the 7-foot center to be ready for his possible match-ups against hulking imports Arinze Onuaku and Joshua Smith.
The good soldier that he is, Slaughter said he’ll be up to the task.
“I know there’s a big responsibility on me to play defense especially against these bigger imports and I’m ready to take that role and do whatever the team needs me to do,” said Slaughter on Friday night at the Astrodome after the Kings formally clinched a quarterfinal berth via 114-91 blowout of Globalport.
“Arinze, we’ve played against him (before). I think this is his second conference coming back. And Josh Smith I wasn’t able to play the last time,” he recalled. “But as long I got my teammates behind me, we can take on anyone.”
The 29-year-old Slaughter was out rehabbing from an ACL injury last year when the Kings were booted out by Smith and the Katropa in four games in the semis of this same conference.
The Kings had Justine Brownlee as import back then, which Cone believes was a bit undersized for a tournament that allows import with a height ceiling of 6-foot-10.
But with a healthy Slaughter, Cone expects the Kings to be more competitive.
“TnT knocked us out in the second conference last year. But we have Greg this time, maybe that would make a difference,” said the champion coach.
Slaughter warmed up for the bigger battle ahead by finishing with eight points, 10 rebounds, and a block shot against the Batang Pier.
The Ginebra big man said he couldn’t wait for the playoffs to get going especially with the Kings on a five-game winning run.
“We need it to get it in and we got it, and avoided that twice-to-win disadvantage. It’s the playoffs and everything restarts now,” said Slaughter.
“We just got to focus on our first game (in the playoffs).”