Slaughter doubtful for semis opener as Ginebra faces ‘monster’ SMB
Relief hit Tim Cone just moments after Barangay Ginebra went through the wringer in sweeping Rain or Shine in their best-of-three quarterfinals series on Wednesday.
But hitting a certain level of comfort won’t last long for Cone and the rest of the Gin Kings, who now face an uphill climb against defending champion San Miguel Beer in a best-of-seven semifinals showdown.
“Wow what a relief. It’s always a big relief to get through the quarters. To me, it’s the hardest series to win, the quarter series,” Cone said after the Gin Kings held on for a 99-91 win over the Elasto Painters.
“Now we face the monster. That’s San Miguel. You can refer that to San Miguel or you can refer that to June Mar,” Cone went on.
Either way, it’s an apt description for the Beermen, who have won the last three all-Filipino conferences and June Mar Fajardo, who is the reigning four-time MVP.
“Again, San Miguel, what can you say? They won three championships in a row in this conference for a reason,” Cone said. “You watched San Miguel-Talk ’N Text and Talk ’N Text was really playing good basketball up until that game. They were really turning a hole or a big corner and still, San Miguel, outsteadied them all the way through the game. June Mar came up with 30 plus points.”
The top-seeded Beermen entered the semifinals after dumping the KaTropa, 106-93, on Tuesday with Fajardo posting 35 points on 15-of-19 shooting from the field, 11 rebounds and two blocks.
Making it doubly hard for the Gin Kings is that Greg Slaughter, their best defender against Fajardo, could still be out early in the series due to an ankle injury.
“Our big question mark obviously is whether Greg is gonna play. I would say, if we’re gonna play a day after tomorrow, he won’t play. But if given another day or two, he may play. But we do expect him back some time in the series,” Cone said.
“We just hope we don’t fall too far behind without him, whether he can make an impact. That’s the big thing for us, whether Greg can play. That would really help us equalize San Miguel. He’d be the great equalizer.”
The semifinals could start as early as Friday and Saturday at the latest depending on the result of the quarterfinals matchup between NLEX and Alaska.
The Kings took down the Beermen in the 2017 Governors’ Cup Finals, but Cone said it’s an entirely different story in the all-Filipino conference.
“They’re actually a different in all-Filipino. I think they’re better all-Filipino than they are with imports. So there’s the difference.”
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