TIME and again, Greg Slaughter had seen Ginebra fall to San Miguel when the lights are at its brightest.
Not this time.
The 6-foot-11 slotman reveled on this Gin King triumph over a fancied Beermen side led by longtime rival June Mar Fajardo, saying the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals conquest is sweeter than any that he has experienced.
“I think this is the best one yet. Right now, I’m on cloud nine and it’s kinda surreal at the moment,” he said after pouring in 13 points and nine rebounds in the crowd darlings’ 93-77 Game Six clincher on Wednesday night.
Slaughter looked back on how hard the last two years has been for him, seeing Ginebra compete without him as he worked his way back from an ACL injury.
“It was tough. In 2016 when I tore my ACL, I missed a lot of opportunities,” he lamented. “We played San Miguel in the finals and we weren’t able to beat them when I was out. It took me a while to get out in this last All-Filipino, and I also got really unlucky before the playoffs spraining my ankle.”
Without Slaughter, the Gin Kings bowed to the Beermen in five games in the 2017 Philippine Cup Finals. They suffered the same fate once again this past conference, this time in the semifinals with the Cebuano giant still not in tip-top shape.
But this one’s different, and Slaughter couldn’t be any more elated that Ginebra pulled this one off considering the tough path it had to go through.
“I’m just glad we’re able to be complete and just win this championship. After such a long conference, we had a tough start going 1-5, and to just be here, it’s very fulfilling. That’s just NSD right there, never say die. We never gave up and here we are,” he said.
Slaughter believes the championship is a testament of how formidable the Gin Kings are when at full strength.
“San Miguel has been dominant and I’m just glad we’re able to show what we can do when we’re complete,” Slaughter said after Ginebra halted a 21-year drought for the franchise in this second conference.
For some, the series’ outcome could be the proverbial changing of the guard, with one dynasty falling and a new powerhouse team emerging.
And for Slaughter, that was the goal from the very beginning: to re-establish Ginebra’s stranglehold of the top.
“We won back-to-back Governors’ Cup (titles) and we’re a confident team. We think we should be up there with the rest of them as the powerhouse teams,” he said. “This is what we play for: championships. We just got this one and we’ll stay humble and work harder to defend our Governor’s Cup championship next conference.”