Jul 26, 2018

Coach Tim Cone believes Ginebra has the best match-up to San Miguel

SAN Miguel holds the all-time PBA record in its head-to-head finals battle against Barangay Ginebra.

Coach Tim Cone hopes to help the Kings score one over their sister team especially now with the team having on board someone everybody perceives as the best answer to the Beermen's four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo.

The Kings welcome the return of a healthy Greg Slaughter to their roster as they duke it out with the reigning, defending champions in the finals of the Commissioner's Cup that gets going on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The 7-foot Slaughter was down with an ACL injury the last time the two storied rivals met in the finals of the 2017 Philippine Cup in a campaign that saw Fajardo dominate at will inside in San Miguel's 4-1 series triumph. The 6-foot-11 Cebuano center ended up as both the Best Player of the Conference and the PBA Press Corps Finals MVP.

But with Slaughter up and about patrolling the paint for the Kings anew, Cone definitely likes the Kings' chances of pulling one over the Beermen.

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"We're expecting a tough series, but any team in the league, we probably have the best match-up to San Miguel," said Cone. "There's nothing more challenging in our league that playing San Miguel. So the challenge is out there for us."

In their five previous faceoff in the finals, the Beermen hold the edge, 4-1. Tthe Kings' sole triumph came during the 2006-07 Philippine Cup under coach Jong Uichico in which the team rallied back from a 0-2 series deficit.

Cone has had success over San Miguel in the past while still calling the shots for Alaska. Now he's looking to do it with him at the helm of Ginebra and Slaughter's presence is definitely an added boost in that respect.

Slaughter held his own against Arinze Onuaku in the quarterfinals series against Meralco and opposite Reggie Johnson and Raymund Almazan in the semis against Rain or Shine.

"Greg has been playing great. I just really enjoyed watching him improved defensively, and with his schemes, and knowing how to play people, and being attentive to details, all of these things he had really grown through these playoffs series having played these big guys," said the Ginebra mentor.

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Cone is a bit wary about the health concern facing his other big man in Japeth Aguilar (Achilles heel), but is tabbing on the 30-year-old Slaughter to rise to the challenge the way he did in the early rounds of the playoffs.

"He's got June Mar coming up and (Renaldo) Balkman at times. So it's going to be a challenge for him, but I think he'll be up for the challenge."(RG)