August 09, 2018

Slaughter difference-maker in Ginebra's title run vs SMB

Barangay Ginebra unleashed Greg Slaughter to slaughter, slit and slay the great giant that's San Miguel Beer.

There were the heroics of Justin Brownlee, Scottie Thompson, LA Tenorio, Joe Devance and even Sol Mercado, Jeff Chan and, in some moments, veteran guard Mark Caguioa.

To Slaughter belong, though, the credit as the "difference-maker" in their title run in the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup culminated by their 93-77 conquest of San Miguel before a boisterous crowd of over 20,000 at the MOA Arena in Pasay City Wednesday night.

Ginebra coach Tim Cone said Slaughter was the answer to June Mar Fajardo that solved the entire SMB puzzle.

"The thing that separates us from the other teams that allows us to challenge San Miguel Beer and June Mar Fajardo is Greg Slaughter," Cone said.

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"The shooter of that team is Fajardo. The player that opens their shooters is June Mar Fajardo. Teams have to double down, help or collapse, or he would completely dominate the game. The difference in this series why we're able to stay with them is the fact that we have Greg. We don't need to double down or collapse, and that allows us to stay on their shooters," Cone pointed out.

"And so we didn't give them a lot of shots. Alex Cabagnot didn't have the open shots. They didn't go directly to the post that they normally do. We took that away because we had Greg and that equalized," Cone added.

The Beermen were vanquished in Game Six with only Fajardo and Renaldo Balkman delivering the buckets with the former producing 29 points and 15 rebounds and the latter coming up with 24 markers and 14 boards.

Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross were completely shut down, with the former going 0-of-12 from the field and the latter 0-of-5. Alex Cabagnot had mere six points while Arwind Santos got five.

Cone insisted their defensive scheme became possible with Slaughter taking care of Fajardo all by himself.

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With the effective Ginebra defense, offense came along later, and the Kings roared on with a relentless drive on the way to a 4-2 series conquest of the Beermen.

Once again, Ginebra foiled SMB's grand slam bid while giving itself a good momentum to ride on in chase of a Governors Cup three-peat.

They will have the same cast, same import in pursuit of a fourth crown in seven conferences.

But Cone is not about to get ahead of themselves.

He says San Miguel Beer, with Fajardo and its other great weapons, is still the best in the league.

"They're still up there. We have to be honest, they're still the best team. We won one championship; they won multiple championships. They have multiple all-Filipino championships," said Cone.

"We're the best for one night. Tomorrow, they're the best again," Cone added.
San Miguel has been 6-of-7 in PBA finals in the last four years with its Philippine Cup four-peat from 2015 while Ginebra has been 3-of-3 in the last six conferences.

But Ginebra was no doubt the better in this Commissioner's Cup titular slugfest. (SB)