Tale of 2 big men: Poy Erram and Greg Slaughter
Two big men, two different stories of trades currently held up. Poy Erram showed up for the team that had already issued a statement about dealing him away while Greg Slaughter was still absent as the team that reportedly wants to ship him for a more mobile, tougher center readies to move forward without him.
Slaughter stuck to his announced sabbatical and wasn’t with Barangay Ginebra when coach Tim Cone and the Kings had their first practice since winning the PBA Governors’ Cup last month.
Cone politely begged off from interviews, but his main wards were preparing for life without Slaughter. Point guard LA Tenorio, in fact, had a little reminder for journalists about what the Kings can do minus the former Ateneo star.
“If he’s out, then we just have to move on. It’s just like when he had an ACL injury,” said Tenorio, who was referring to Ginebra’s gilded run in the last conference of 2016.
“We played before without Greg and we won a championship without Greg so we’re okay.”
Erram, meanwhile, suited up for NLEX in an exhibition match against Alaska, which the Road Warriors won, 104-89, on Wednesday at Upper Deck Sports Center in Pasig. NLEX had already issued a statement about shipping the defensive stalwart to TNT in a three-team trade that had Blackwater serving as conduit between the two sister teams.
But the PBA held up the trade, seeking more tweaks to the package to make it fair to the teams involved. That meant coach Yeng Guiao had another day with Erram, but he admitted that the uncertainty is stalling his team’s preparations.
“If it (trade) happens, it has to happen right away, because the more that you dwell on it, the more it brings about a negative vibe [on the team],” he told the Inquirer shortly after the friendly at Upper Deck Sports Center in Pasig.
Guiao admitted that losing Erram “will be a very sad separation between the two of us.”
“It’s something you don’t want the rest of the guys dealing with emotionally, morale-wise, for a long time,” he added. “Let’s just get it over with.”
The Kings are hanging on to the hope that Slaughter would remain with the squad but admitted that there was little they could do about it.
“We can never dictate someone,” Japeth Aguilar, Slaughter’s pal, and his frontline partner told reporters. “Whatever his decision is, I know he has thought it through. I just wish him all the best.”
Tenorio said Slaughter’s absence could mean pushing the ceiling higher for Aguilar, who is coming off his most successful tournament in his career. Aguilar anchored Ginebra’s conquest of Meralco in the Governors’ Cup Finals and was named series MVP for his efforts.
“[If anything], I think this is the MVP season of Japeth,” Tenorio said.
Erram, meanwhile, is focusing on the present. Until the PBA approves the deal that sends him back to the team that originally picked him, he remains a Road Warrior and, as such, has set a goal meant for NLEX and Guiao.
“I owe [Guiao] a lot. I owe him where I am now, and my time with Gilas,” Erram said in Filipino as he hopes to give Guiao a first all-Filipino title in nearly three decades of coaching.
“I know what team I belong to, I’m still a member of NLEX,” Erram added. “That’s my team and that’s the ball club I want to be in. This is also what coach Yeng wants.”
“Until now, I’m still a part of NLEX.
“His reverence for the mercurial mentor comes at a time when reports have circulated that part of the reason that he is being traded is his falling out with Guiao.
“I think the rumors come from the times when I scolded him, yelled at him,” Guiao said. “What happened after that is he took my words seriously. He became better. Which is what exactly I wanted. I’m sure that’s also what he wanted.”
“From thereon, we’ve never had any misunderstandings,” Guiao said.
“There’s no iota of truth to all of those rumors. We love Poy and I am very sure he loves us,” he added.