Kings to play sans Slaughter
Barangay Ginebra finally came to terms with its 7-foot cornerstone, but the Gin Kings will be gunning for a second straight title starting next week still without Greg Slaughter.
The Kings, the Governors’ Cup champions, are installed as darkhorses in the opening conference of Season 42 of the PBA—which starts Sunday with the Philippine Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao—as Slaughter, though with a fresh deal, will be returning late in the next conference at the earliest.
Slaughter recently signed a maximum three-year renewal with Ginebra despite recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL, but is not expected back until late in the Commissioner’s Cup eliminations.
And that would leave the Kings without possibly the second best center in the league behind only the Beermen’s own behemoth, reigning three-time MVP June Mar Fajardo.
Ginebra was able to strengthen its forward rotation with the acquisition of former Santo Tomas ace Kevin Ferrer from the special Gilas Cadet Draft and would have great use for Slaughter in the Philippine Cup if he were healthy.
Fajardo won a third straight MVP last season by dominating action in the Philippine Cup, being too strong, quicker and younger than the other big men in the league.
With Ferrer aboard, the Kings’ main strength would continue to be its backcourt as Scottie Thompson will undoubtedly be a better player after earning his spurs as a rookie last season.
LA Tenorio is at the prime of his career with former MVPs Mark Caguioa and Jay-Jay Helterbrand having second winds in the last conference.
While Tim Cone would need to plug a huge hole in the middle for the Kings, the Beermen have gotten stronger in that spot after tabbing Arnold Van Opstal from the Cadet pool to give Fajardo a more dependable back-up.
San Miguel, which starts seeking a third straight all-Filipino on Sunday against sister team Star, is loaded on all fronts with Arwind Santos leading a talented forward rotation that also has Marcio Lassiter.
Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross could be as good as any point guard tandem in the league, no offense to the offensive potential of GlobalPort’s Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle, as both can also play defense and shut down their counterparts.
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