ALL eyes will be on top two rookie picks Greg Slaughter and Ian Sangalang as they get their much-awaited baptism of fire in the PBA when the charged-up Barangay Ginebra goes up against San Mig Coffee to open the league’s 39th season Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Slaughter was tabbed by the Kings as the top overall pick in this year’s draft, while Sangalang followed suit when the Mixers selected him at no. 2.
Now, fans get to see their worth as they try play against each other in the 3 p.m. match – one of three opening day games that cover Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
Battling each other down South in Cebu are defending champion Talk `N Text and Meralco, while in Davao, it’s Rain or Shine taking on Alaska.
Coach Ato Agustin however, cautioned the legion of pro-Ginebra fans to taper down expectations on the 6-foot-11Slaughter considering he has barely practiced with the team for two weeks since draft day.
“Maganda at napuno na,” Agustin said, referring to the gaping hole in the middle Slaughter filled in for the Kings.
“Iyung magagawa mo na gusto mo, wala na sigurong reason na sasabihing kulang kami.”
Agustin acknowledged the Kings also have the depth to match up with any team in the league, but stressed it doesn’t mean winning would be that easy, especially against a souped-up San Mig Coffe side.
“Hindi namin kami no. 1, pero kumbaga, gumanda lang talaga line up namin ngayon kasi lumaki kami bigla, unlike last conference. Eh, may JR (Reyes) na at may Slaughter, saka 100 percent na si Japeth (Aguilar), so it’s good for the team,” he added.
The Mixers only have three weeks to prepare for the All-Filipino tournament since winning the season-ending Governors Cup title last month.
While the team managed to stack up its already veteran-laden roster with four new rookies led by Sangalang, coach Tim Cone said he is not expecting the freshmen to immediately contribute.
“We got an intact team so if our rookies are not ready after a week (of practice), it will just be fine. We’ll try to bring them along,” added Cone