TIM Cone only sees one player capable of matching up well with four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo. And the good thing about it, he has him at his disposal at Barangay Ginebra.
As Greg Slaughter remains healthy and continues to improve, Cone boldly anointed his prized big man as the key to unlocking the mystery of ‘The Kraken.’
“He’s the only real answer to June Mar and we’re fortunate to have him,” said Cone before the Kings went on a break for the New Year holidays.
The seven-foot Slaughter had an auspicious debut in the PBA Philippine Cup, coming away with 24 points (10-of-14 from the field), 13 rebounds and four block shots as the Kings turned back the Magnolia Hotshots on Christmas Day, 89-78.
At one point of the game at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan, Slaughter was seen flexing his muscles following a power play – and a bonus free throw to boot – in a rare display of bravadoby the soft-spoken big man.
That the 29-year-old former Ateneo stalwart was dominant right away in his first game in the all-Filipino in the last two years no longer surprised Cone.
“This is really his conference,” said the champion coach.
“People don’t remember that two years ago in the all-Filipino, he was leading the league in scoring and rebounding, and he was just having an awesome conference,” stressed Cone.
But then misfortune struck.
Slaughter went under the knife to remove bone spurs on his ankle, and not too long upon his return he came down with an ACL injury that forced him to sit out for one season.
“He decided to have surgery afterwards and then he was out for a year,” said Cone of Slaughter, who never came back until the season-ending Governors Cup when he helped the Kings retain their title by repeating over the Meralco Bolts.
Cone believes Slaughter’s health would play a crucial factor if the Kings are to win their first Philippine Cup championship in the last 10 years, and more so, stop San Miguel’s bid to bag a record fourth straight all-Filipino crown.
The Kings and the Beermen won’t meet this conference until January 28 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in the first rematch between the two teams that collided in the finals of this same conference last season.