Barangay Ginebra welcomes star center back from ‘sabbatical’
The first thing on Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone’s sights shortly after winning the 2020 Philippine Cup was neither the long layoff ahead nor a successful title defense.
It was reacquiring Greg Slaughter.
Almost two months later, he got his wish.
Cone expressed his excitement on the re-signing of the team’s estranged big man on Thursday, shortly after his reply to a fan on Twitter made rounds and stirred Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) fans the
“Greg has signed. Although I’m not privy to the details,” he told the Inquirer. “We’re happy to have him back.”
Slaughter famously took a sabbatical in February amid reports of a deal that would ship him away from the crowd darlings. “He gives us such great versatility and a huge presence in the paint,” Cone added.
Fearsome front line
Slaughter’s return to Barangay Ginebra reinstates a fearsome front line pairing with Japeth Aguilar, one of the contenders for the Best Player of the Conference during last season’s lone conference held in a bubble.
And it could not have come at a better time for the double Grand Slam coach.
Barangay Ginebra’s title defense will run through a San Miguel Beer squad whose five-season hold of the all-Filipino throne was interrupted by Barangay Ginebra last year, largely due to an injury to six-time most valuable player June Mar Fajardo.
San Miguel is welcoming the 6-foot-10 Fajardo in the coming season—and more.
The Beermen acquired former Rookie of the Year CJ Perez without having to break up its core, turning the squad into a more formidable threat.
Team to beat
Perez was shipped by Terrafirma to San Miguel in exchange for three reserves and two first-rounder picks, including the Beermen’s No. 8 selection in the coming talent-rich Rookie Draft.
The deal was largely panned on social medial despite justification from Dyip officials. But now that it has been approved, Cone says it will make the Beermen a pain to deal with.
“Now with Perez and (Terrence) Romeo, they have two young guards that can help … June Mar (Fajardo’s) prolific career,” Cone said.
“With San Miguel’s aging core—although that core is still incredibly strong—there was an obvious need to acquire youth,” added Cone, who made one thing clear.
“They (the Beermen) will pose great challenges now and down the road. They continue to be the team to beat.”
As news of Slaughter’s return made the rounds, Meralco’s trade to acquire Blackwater star Mac Belo for guard Baser Amer was approved by the league after it required the Bolts to throw in backup big man Bryan Faundo to sweeten the deal.
“We recruited [Mac Belo] because our frontcourt is one of the areas where we need depth,” coach Norman Black said in a statement. “We … look forward to seeing his impact in our team.”
The addition of Belo comes as a shot in the arm for the Bolts, who will get another capable big man to backstop defensive center Raymond Almazan.
“To gain something of value, you, unfortunately, must lose something of value as well. We thank Baser and Bryan, and we recognize all of their contributions. We wish them nothing but the best in their career,” Black said.
Meralco pushed Barangay Ginebra to a deciding Game 5 in the last Philippine Cup, losing only on a huge Scottie Thompson triple in the stretch