BASED on the last PBA All Star balloting, Barangay Ginebra rookie Gregory Slaughter is now the league’s most popular cager.
But the soft-spoken Cebuano big man is quick to deflect the credit.
“I wouldn’t say that (I'm the most popular now). That’s just 60,000 votes. The PBA has millions and millions of fans. So, I wouldn’t go as far as that,” said Slaughter, a day after topping the balloting for the All-Star team that will face Gilas Pilipinas in the mid-season showpiece in the first week of April.
“But the mere fact that the fans voted for me, I am very thankful of that.”
Asked who he thinks are the most popular players today, the top pick overall of this season's rookie draft, without batting an eyelash, pointed to two players who he said are still the faces of the league.
“For me the top two most popular players are my teammate Mark (Caguioa) and James Yap,” he said.
And does he see himself being in the same level as the two league superstars one day? “I try not to look into things like that. My main concern is to play basketball,” said the Fil-foreign center.
But another former star big man of Ginebra, Marlou Aquino, believes the All-Star appearance will be the first of many for Slaughter - so long as he continues to improve his craft.
“I’m sure ganun mangyayari dyan, lagi siya sa All Stars. Permanent fixture kumbaga. Dapat lang maging consistent siya sa games niya. Kung double-double siya, dapat tuloy-tuloy yun,” said Aquino.
Aquino, a member of Robert Jaworski's fabled Ginebra teams in the nineties, said he is the least surprised that Ginebra players Slaughter, Chris Ellis, and Mac Baracael get the most votes in fans' balloting.
“Hindi na ko nagulat kasi maganda ang laro ng Ginebra ngayon. Basta maganda pinakita ng Ginebra, (auto)matic na All Star ang mga key players. Parang seeded na ang mga 'yan,” said Aquino, now retired and currently a member of the Adamson Falcons coaching staff.
Even if you include Gilas Pilipinas players in the balloting, Aquino said Ginebra player would still land most of the places in the starting five.
“Baka nga na sweep pa nila yung lima eh. Pero tingin ko mga apat, kasi yung James Yap solid boto nun eh. Yung Mark Barroca at LA Tenorio, malamang nagematehan yun sa point guard spot,” said Aquino, who added he also admires the game of another big man in San Miguel’s June Mar Fajardo.