After years and years of fantasy booking, the Men’s National Basketball team now has the Cebuano twin tower of Greg Slaughter and Junemar Fajardo in the same pool.
Ginebra’s Greg Slaughter last donned the national colors back in 2012 with the Gilas I, under the guidance of legendary head coach Rajko Toroman. “We started in 2010 and we were done by 2012. It’s a lot different. It’s a whole new system, different guys, and different teammates. The original Gilas was composed of amateurs,” Slaughter reflected about the trailblazing team. “It’s always been a nice thing. I think Gilas I was a bit different since we just went on tournament after tournament.”
During his first tour of duty with the national team, the then-24 year old big man helped steer the National Team to gold medal finishes at the 2011 Southeast Asian Games and the 2011 SEABA Tournament. However, when he was invited to join the Gilas squad under Chot Reyes, which competed in the 2014 FIBA World Cup and the Asian Games that followed, Slaughter politely declined the invitation. He cited respect for the Gilas II squad that competed in the 2013 FIBA Asia Tournament. Moreover, the 7’1″ center was still finishing his studies at the Ateneo de Manila University at the time.
“Me and Marcio [Lassiter] are fortunate to be part of this again. Time’s always changing and, personally, I’m very excited,” Slaughter shared about finally being able to heed the call of duty once more.
After just a day of practice, what stuck with “Gregzilla” was the vision of coach Tab Baldwin for the squad. “This is just our first practice together but my impression on coach Tab [Baldwin] is that he’s an excellent coach. He is really serious and I like his mentality that we are going for the gold,” he enthusiastically shared with Tiebreaker Times. “That’s his goal and I like that. Why go if you’re not planning to go all the way?”
When asked about what we could expect for arguably the strongest pool ever formed in Philippine basketball history, Slaughter was tempering expectations as it had just been their first day of being together. The big man, though, believes that with Baldwin’s vision and the team’s belief, it will only lead to better things. “What I can say is that coach Tab is a very competent coach, he is very responsible. I think with everyone buying in, this is going to be good for us,” he disclosed.
Personally, Slaughter also believes that training with a high-level staff and the best players in the country today will also help him grow as a player. “Absolutely, just playing at an international level, learning from a good coach, and practicing with the best players in the country all the time, those things will help me grow as a player,” he closed.
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