(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
Fajardo was nearly unstoppable in the series. Could GregZilla have helped to defend the Kraken?
The last time Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings defeated the San Miguel Beermen in the playoffs, it was during the quarterfinals of last season's Governors' Cup which was won by Ginebra who stopped a Beermen team who was then, seeking for a Grand Slam. That Ginebra team was bannered by the do-it-all import, Justin Brownlee and of course, the Twin Towers of Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar. The Gin Kings went all the way to the finals where they won the championship in 7 games against the Meralco Bolt who for some reason, couldn't get the job done, again.
Now, Ginebra squared off against San Miguel anew in the semifinals of the Philippine Cup where they bowed down to the defending champions after a gritty ending to Game 5 which sealed San Miguel's 4th consecutive trip to the Philippine Cup Finals.
What was the difference between the Ginebra squad that won their back-to-back Governors' Cup championships and the one who lost to San Miguel in just 5 games recently?
The one who got kicked out of the semifinals, recently, didn't have Greg Slaughter in uniform as he was taken out of the playoffs due to the fact that he was dealing with an injury that he sustained during one of Ginebra's practices prior to the playoffs.
Question: If Greg Slaughter was healthy, would his presence change the complexity of the entire series?
The answer to that question is simple: Yes.
Before he went out for good this conference, he averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds in 7 games that he played in the Philippine Cup. Considering the inconsistency of the Ginebra stars such as LA Tenorio and Joe Devance, Ginebra could have benefited from Slaughter's numbers especially in Game 4 and 5 where Japeth Aguilar was the only bright side for the team.On the defensive end, Slaughter could have made life more miserable for June Mar Fajardo because only Greg Slaughter has the height and strength to go head-to-head against the 4-time MVP.
Could Ginebra have a better chance at winning the series with Slaughter on board?
Yes. One way or another, Ginebra needed another legitimate big man to defend Fajardo, especially on the low post. Having Slaughter going against Fajardo could have balanced things out as it could have lessened the advantage that San Miguel holds over the Gin Kings.
As painful as it sounds for Ginebra fans, they will have to wait until the Commissioner's Cup opens to get a glimpse of Greg Slaughter back in basketball action. It could have been worse if Greg Slaughter played in the semifinals while still hurting because that could give Fajardo the advantage. It's still good that Tim Cone is smart enough to know that it's not worth to risk aggravating Slaughter's injury.