Barangay Ginebra is kicking off its PBA Governors Cup campaign without its top big man Greg Slaughter.
But coach Tim Cone said the Kings were able to prepare ahead of time upon learning early last month that the 6-foot-11 former PBA Rookie of the Year needed to undergo surgery on his ankle.
“We’ve had time to adjust and so we hope we can hold the fort until he (Slaughter) returns, hopefully before the playoffs start,” Cone said, whose team debuts this conference against a banged-up GlobalPort side in the 5:15 main game on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
It was not too long ago when GlobalPort pulled off a shocking quarterfinal upset against a favored Ginebra quintet during the Philippine Cup this season.
The Kings were actually favored to make it all the way to the all-Filipino conference Finals with Cone already at the helm. Unfortunately, the rampaging Ginebra squad saw its winning streak of snapped by a revved up Batang Pier, knocking the Kings out in early round of the playoffs.
Past is past, but that speed bump should serve as a reminder for Ginebra not to take any team, especially GlobalPort light.
“I’m as curious as the fans to see how we play without Greg,” said Cone, who’ll have to rely on Japeth Aguilar, Dave Marcelo and comebacking PBA import Paul Harris to man the interior against GlobalPort.
Harris, who just got married over a week ago, is raring to prove his worth and help Ginebra end its 8-year PBA title drought.
“The PBA is a strong league,” Harris said, best remembered for leading TNT to the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup title, ironically against Ginebra in the Finals.
“They have very, very great imports this conference, but my vision when I came here was to not win the Best Import. I’m not here for that, but to try to help this team and give my all for this organization, and help it become an elite team.”
Ginebra holds the decisive edge against GlobalPort, whose frontcourt has been decimated by injuries.
Billy Mamaril is out due to back problems, Jay Washington strained his calf, Rico Maierhofer is still recovering from an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury, while Anthony Semerad has a sprained MCL (medial collateral ligament) on his knee.
Franz Pumaren, now GlobalPort’s active consultant, expects import Dominique Sutton along with the super backcourt duo of Stanley Pringle and Terrence Romeo to lead the charge for the injury-riddled team. – By Richard Dy
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