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A Wheeler's Opinion: Greg Slaughter is Key to Ginebra's Success

The Gentle Giant is VITAL to Tim Cone's Gameplan against Meralco





Whether on offense or defense, Greg Slaughter is important for the Gin Kings. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

For Greg Slaughter, missing majority of the 2015-2016 PBA season due to the fact that he was advised by his doctors to undergo a surgery to deal with the ankle problem that was hampering his performance, was a wasted opportunity for the big man. Mind you, folks, that was the season when "Gregzilla" was averaging 20 points, 12 rebounds and 2 assists- all career-high averages for the top pick in the 2013 PBA Draft. 

Not only that, he was on course to challenge fellow Cebuano giant, the Kraken, June Mar Fajardo for the MVP award. Had the Gin Kings made the Final 4 of the Commissioner's Cup that same season, Slaughter would have won the Best Player of the Conference because he topped statistical race for that conference. He wasn't even in uniform when Ginebra broke an 8-year dry spell after winning the Governors' Cup championship last year. 

Greg Slaughter returned to action this season and was a vital piece especially in Ginebra's run back to the Finals of this season's Governors where they will be playing against the very same team that they beat last year, the league-leading Meralco Bolts. 

An interesting thing about this Finals match-up: this is a championship series which will be pitting Slaughter against his former coach in Ateneo, Norman Black whom he played for to win 2 UAAP championships which were included in Black's 5-championship run with the Blue Eagles. So, this will mean that a healthy AND playing Greg Slaughter in a Ginebra jersey will mean another gigantic headache for Norman Black and the rest of the Bolts because even though they beat Ginebra back in the elimination round, this is the Finals, folks. 

And yes, this basketball pundit firmly believes that Greg Slaughter's performance in the upcoming Finals series which will start on Friday, whether or not, the Gin Kings will win win back-to-back Governors' Cup championships.

Why?

Okay. Let's run some numbers. During the playoffs of this year's Governors' Cup, the gentle giant from Cebu has averaged 15 points in those 5 games which included a 21-point outing in Game 4 to eliminate an all-Filipino Talk N Text KaTropa team and book their return trip to the Finals. That, folks, was something that Slaughter did while coming off the bench. 

That says something about a former top pick in the Draft who doesn't mind coming off the bench because first and foremost, Ginebra's frontcourt is already full with Joe Devance and Japeth Aguilar starting in both forward spots. This is one luxury that Coach Tim Cone enjoys because whenever either or both Aguilar and Devance were struggling offensively- which was the case back in Game 4 against TNT, Slaughter came out firing and led the bench of Ginebra as he made 7 of his 8 shot attempts and 7 of 9 from the free throw line. All of that in under 30 minutes of action. 

That's how efficient Slaughter and offensive efficiency will be one of the major keys for Ginebra come the Finals.

Another part of Greg Slaughter's game that will be crucial to their match-up against the Bolts is his passing game. Yep. Greg Slaughter can pass the ball especially if the opposing team decides to throw in two defenders to guard the giant. And that is something Norman Black is very much familiar with because he saw to it that Slaughter learned to pass the ball during their years together in Ateneo. Meralco may send a double team on multiple occasions to try to stop Gregzilla from turning the shaded area into a slaughterhouse but if you're Norman Black, you'd be smart enough to send in your best one-on-one defender on the court every time Slaughter is playing. 

Conclusion:

Ginebra will need Gregory William Slaughter for his consistency and his efficiency on both ends of the court because let's face it, folks, Ginebra was able to win last year's Governors' Cup championship without the services of their giant center. Just imagine a Ginebra team, playing against the Meralco Bolts in the Finals of this season's Governors' Cup- with Greg Slaughter playing like the giant he is meant to be. Dominant and yet, efficient. 


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