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Fixing Barangay Ginebra's Twin Towers

Greg Slaughter. Japeth Aguilar. There was a time when one, then the other, was considered the best big man prospect in the Philippines.

For Slaughter, it was his size and heft combined with good basic basketball skills that propelled him to the top. For Aguilar, it was his preposterous length and the eye-popping athleticism (which was evident, even amongst NBA D-Leaguers) that made him stand out.

Slaughter and Aguilar have physical gifts that most of their PBA colleagues don’t have. It’s not unfair to say that the expectations for both are that they would dominate their competition every night.

However, that has not been the case. Instead, the smaller frontlines of teams like the Talk N Text Tropang Texters, the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters, and the Alaska Aces have managed to get the upperhand over Barangay Ginebra’s towering frontline.

And while June Mar Fajardo is now the current gold standard of PBA big men, I think both Aguilar and Slaughter need only to address one thing in their games to supplant him and make 2015 the Year of the Twin Towers.

One of the main differences between the duo of Slaughter and Aguilar versus Fajardo is their offensive mindsets. Fajardo is an active component of the San Miguel offense. When San Miguel puts the ball in Fajardo’s hand, he’s immediately going hard to rim for the bucket or the foul. When he’s not touching the ball, he’s setting screens, trying to draw his opposing number away from the rim, or getting position for easy putbacks.

Slaughter, for all his size, is a finesse center, a skilled big man with good array of post moves, knows how to use pump fakes and spin moves and can even hit the occasional 10-12footer. But he needs to amp up his aggressiveness, needs to get into the “I’ll go through you if I have to” mindset so that he can maximize his physical advantages over his opponents. That means going hard for dunks instead of lay ups, to avoid getting blocked. That means being able to play through hard contact and get the bucket, despite the foul. That means challenging the opposition to match his presence, which can lead to them being overly aggressive and fouling him early and often.

In 2014-2015, Fajardo averaged 17.2 points and 12.9 rebounds per game. What was more impressive was how consistent he was in every game. Fajardo didn’t compile his stats by having monster game every so often while putting up otherwise pedestrian stats in his other games. He came in and did the work in every game.

Aguilar, on the other hand, is not just inconsistent from game to game but also from quarter to quarter. One quarter, he’s dominating on both sides of the court and then the next quarter, he’s getting pushed around by Belga or losing Ranidel de Ocampo on the perimeter or failing to box out Marc Pingris. On offense, he swings from very aggressive to barely engaged at all.  He’s not the most versatile or imaginative of offensive threats, as he’s mostly limited to dunks, lay ups, putbacks, and the occasional open mid range jumper but if he’s consistent with his effort through out the game, he’s bound to put up monster numbers.

As you can see, the one thing  I think Slaughter and Aguilar have to address has nothing to do with them improving physically or skills-wise. It’s all about them changing their mindset and approach to the game, so they can maximize the tools the already have.

For more sports content, go to http://sportsfandom.blogspot.com

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Twitter: @PMVBalo
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