San Miguel head coach Leo Austria admitted that the team had to change its plan of action against NorthPort on Sunday due to Greg Slaughter.
The 7-foot center finally made his Batang Pier debut after missing their first two games of the season. It was also his first game back since the sabbatical he took after the expiration of his contract with old team Ginebra last year.
“Nabago ang preparation namin,” the four-time Coach of the Year said. “Usually kapag walang mas malaking kalaban kay June Mar, ang game plan namin mas concentrated kay June Mar [Fajardo] — to dominate the shaded area with a lot of outside shooters.
“This time, because of Greg, na-neutralize ang kakayanan ni June Mar.”
Slaughter indeed impressed in his return.
The one-time Best Player of the Conference led his team with 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting, including 1-of-3 from deep. He also had a game-high 17 rebounds in the 37 minutes and 42 seconds he was on the court.
“We know Greg is out there to prove something,” said Austria.
“With Greg Slaughter inside, it was hard to dominate the shaded area and we had a hard time attacking the middle.”
Slaughter was key in NorthPort’s hijack attempt in the final frame. They wiped out a 16-point deficit and sent the game into an 86-all deadlock with 7.3 seconds left following Robert Bolick’s technical free throw.
Unfortunately, though, his efforts went down the drain. 40-year-old Arwind Santos nailed the game-winning jumper to steer the Beermen to their second consecutive victory in the 2021 Philippine Cup.
Still, Austria sung nothing but praises for the 33-year-old. He also said that Slaughter and the Batang Pier will cause major problems for the other teams.
“He’s in shape and he’s ready to punish other opponents,” he said. “With his size, I think he can dominate because his team is really good, and there are a lot of quality players in his team that could support him.
“Imagine, this is his first game and all the quarters, nasa loob siya,” Austria added. “But I think in the next few games, he could dominate.
“Even for those teams na malalakas, he will be the problem of those opponents.”