Sans Slaughter, Tim Cone reminds Ginebra to put on a ‘brave face’ v Phoenix

Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone admitted that losing Greg Slaughter to a possible season-ending ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear on his right knee late in the eliminations is “devastating”.

But the Kings won’t let this latest setback affect them, especially since the PBA Governors Cup playoffs is set to start next week.

READ: Tim Cone says initial findings reveal Greg Slaughter may have suffered an ACL tear

“Losing Greg at this point has been devastating for the team and of course to him.” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone, ahead of their crucial match-up against Phoenix on Wednesday at Ynares Center in Antipolo.

Hopes were high when the 6-foot-11 Slaughter returned last Friday, tallying seven points and four rebounds in 10 minutes of play.

But his conference debut since recovering from ankle surgery was marred by another injury after landing awkwardly during a rebound sequence early in the fourth quarter in Ginebra’s win over Mahindra. He held on to his right knee for a while as Ginebra teammates and fans held their breath, wishing and praying that his injury won’t be that bad.

READ: Greg Slaughter scheduled for more tests to know extent of injury

Cone though admitted on Monday that initial findings from Slaughter’s MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) result point to possible ACL tear on his right knee.

And while the Kings already secured the twice-to-beat edge entering the playoffs with their 7-2 card, questions linger on whether the league’s most popular squad could sustain their best start under Cone in the post season minus Slaughter.

READ: Greg Slaughter appears in tip top shape during Ginebra’s open practice

Nonetheless, Cone has reminded his wards to be “brave” in the face of adversity.

“But now that his (Slaughter) return this conference doesn’t seem likely, we’ll have to do with what we’ve been ding all conference, and that is stepping up in his absence,” shared Cone, the league’s all-time winning coach with 18 championships

“We just have to put on a brave face and move forward and that starts with Phoenix,” he added.

So far, Ginebra’s fiery start in the season-ending ending conference has a lot to do with the spirited plays of import Justin Bronwlee, who averages 30.25 points, 12.50 rebounds, 4.62 assists and 1.62 steals per contest.

Japeth Aguilar, the other half of Ginebra’s “Twin Towers”, is submitting 16.11 points, 5.78 rebounds and 2.00 blocks, while the Kings’ guards LA Tenorio (12.67 points, 4.44 assists), Sol Mercado (12.22 points and 4.44 assists) and rookie Scottie Thompson (5.0 points, 7.89 rebounds and 2.89 assists) have been superb as well.

READ: Marc Pingris says streaking Ginebra can reach Govs Cup Finals

The Fuel Masters though won’t simply roll and die, considering that they are in a must-win situation to keep their playoff chances alive.

Phoenix, which will welcome the return of fit-again JC Intal, is currently lumped together with NLEX and Alaska at sixth to eighth places with identical 5-5 cards.  A win could assure the Fuel Masters of a place in the top eight.    

In the first game, GlobalPort and Blackwater will slug it out in a battle of also-ran teams at 4:30 p.m.  – Jason Mercene

Follow this writer on Twitter: @JasonMercenePH

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