GINEBRA coach Tim Cone yesterday clarified that he was aware of Greg Slaughter’s plan to take a break from basketball. He just didn’t realize Slaughter’s basketball sabbatical would come this soon.
“I did know Greg was contemplating taking a break from basketball,” Cone said yesterday.
“We discussed it during our exit meeting immediately following the (last PBA Governors Cup) championship, and I hope to discuss it further (with Greg) in the next couple of days.”
Cone was quoted in some reports earlier as “having no news on Greg at this time” but said he intended to talk with Slaughter and his agent “within the next couple of days.”
A couple of key things hinge on the outcome of those talks.
One is Ginebra’s plan to ship the 7-foot center and rookie draft pick Jerrick Balanza to NorthPort for Christian Standhardinger.
Another and perhaps most important is Ginebra’s bid to win the Philippine Cup which kicks off the new PBA season.
“Obviously, his absence in the All-Filipino would be a big blow to the team and his teammates,” admitted Cone.
It’s no secret Cone and the Kings are aiming for the PBA’s crown jewel shortly after the franchise secured a third Governors Cup championship in the last four seasons last month.
Ginebra last won the import-less conference in the 2006-07 season and Cone, who came over from Purefoods in 2015, has yet to win it with the Kings.
The prospects of Ginebra winning the All-Filipino crown looked brighter when June Mar Fajardo suffered a shin injury last week, leaving San Miguel Beer without a blue chip center in its bid to annex a sixth straight Philippine Cup title.
With Slaughter and 6-foot-9 Japeth Aguilar, Ginebra has the league’s best twin towers combo.
But a major blow came for Ginebra when Slaughter announced through his Instagram account over the weekend his decision to take an indefinite break from basketball after his contract expired at the end of the last season.
According to some quarters, Slaughter’s decision was spurred mostly by his failure to secure a higher salary and a no-trade clause in his new contract. Ginebra officials could not be contacted for comment on such allegations.
Also hanging in the balance is the trade with NorthPort, a deal that insiders said was a “done one” until Slaughter’s announcement.
Now both parties are waiting if Slaughter could be talked out of his latest decision that he said was prompted by his desire “to be able to work on myself in all aspects.”
Last season, the Fil-Am behemoth was good for averages of 9.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.0 assist and 0.9 blocks.
He’s the team’s No. 4 best scorer after Stanley Pringle (10.0), Aguilar (14.6) and LA Tenorio (11.8).
Aguilar is also bracing for a tough grind minus his frontline partner. “(Things) will never be the same,” he said on his Twitter account.