Getting Greg Slaughter back on board is the main objective when Barangay Ginebra San Miguel marches to the 46th season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
Ginebra coach Tim Cone said he is keeping his fingers crossed, hoping that the seven-footer would return to action as soon as possible to shore up their already potent frontline.
Cone, the league’s most successful mentor, has been missing Slaughter big time.
Despite being part of the team that won the 2019 Governors’ Cup crown, Slaughter was a no-show in the Philippine Cup as he decided to try his luck in the United States.
Now that the former Ateneo de Manila University slotman is finally back in the country, Cone hopes that he is ready to resume his role as the Kings’ top inside operator.
“As for Greg, I’m hoping everything works out and we can get him back as soon as possible,” said Cone, whose wards nearly swept the major honors during the 45th PBA Special Awards Night last Sunday.
“He’s a huge impact player for us and he gives us an opportunity to change our approach to the game.”
With Slaughter sitting out the Philippine Cup, which was played inside a quarantine bubble in Clark, Cone banked on Japeth Aguilar and Prince Caperal for defensive presence underneath while Stanley Pringle and LA Tenorio mapped out the plays with Scottie Thompson Jeff Chan and Jared Dillinger providing outside threat.
The Kings were rewarded as they clinched the Philippine Cup title while the key players were grabbed various awards.
Pringle emerged as Best Player of the Conference before joining Aguilar in the Elite Five together with Poy Erram of TNT Tropang Giga and Matthew Wright and Calvin Abueva of Phoenix Super LPG.
Caperal, for his part, wound up as Most Improved Player after amassing 2,447 points to edge Justin Chua of Phoenix, who registered 2,096 points.
Thompson ran away with the Sportsmanship Award while Tenorio was earlier named as Most Valuable Player of the best-of-seven finals against TNT Tropang Giga.
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial led the awarding ceremonies together with PBA chair Raymund Zorilla of Phoenix as well as PBA governors Erick Arejola of NorthPort, Dickie Bachmann of Alaska and Ricky Vargas of TNT Tropang Giga.
Still, Cone needs Slaughter to be able to defend their title next season.
“He allows us a level of versatility that other teams don’t have,” the 63-year-old Cone said.