PBA Preview: Full-strength Ginebra looks to live up to tag as biggest threat to SMB's PH Cup reign
With Greg Slaughter in the fold, Ginebra has all the pieces to match up with reigning PH Cup champion San Miguel, but coach Tim Cone has other concerns. Warren Salvacion

Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings

Roster: Paolo Taha, Sol Mercado, LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson, Kevin Ferrer, Jammer Jamito, Greg Slaughter, Art dela Cruz, Raymond Aguilar, Japeth Aguilar, Jervy Cruz, Aljon Mariano, Joe Devance, Mark Caguioa

Key additions: Jett Manuel

Significant losses: Jayjay Helterbrand (retired)

SAVE for a three-point expert, Ginebra had all bases covered last season. 

Now with the addition of rookie shooter Jett Manuel and a healthy Greg Slaughter, the Gin Kings have become an even more formidable squad in the PBA.

No wonder the winners of the last two Governors' Cup are tagged as the biggest threat to the San Miguel Beermen's reign in the Philippine Cup.

The arrival of the University of the Philippines gunner will help spread the floor for big men Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar, who are tasked to assert their size advantage against their foes in the All-Filipino Conference.

"We’re looking to bring in a couple shooters so they can help Greg and Japeth (Aguilar) spread the floor but we don’t feel we have a real need to change what we do," said Ginebra coach Tim Cone.

"We feel LA’s (Tenorio) a great shooter, Kevin’s (Ferrer) a great shooter, Mark (Caguioa) is actually a great shooter, just not a great three-point shooter, but 15 to 18 feet, he’s lights out." 

But while they boast a souped-up roster, the Beermen remain the title favorites in a conference they have dominated for three straight years behind a solid crew led by reigning four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo.

Cone, though, believes among all teams, their size can match up with the mighty Beermen, who are gunning for a record four straight All-Filipino title. What worries Cone are the other squads like TnT Katropa and NLEX, whose bread and butter are speed and toughness. 

"We are the only team that can match-up with San Miguel," he said. "In fact, we probably match up with San Miguel better than we do against a team like Talk N’ Text because they’re a team that loves to takbo and takbo and takbo. They’re running up and down and our big guys are finding it hard to catch up.”

"San Miguel, I think they look at us and they say, 'they’re the possible stumbling block.' And we look at them saying, we can match up with them, we have a chance. But really, San Miguel doesn’t worry about the other teams while we worry about the other teams," he added.


Whether Cone admits it or not, Ginebra is a cut above the rest in almost every aspect. 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @janbballesteros