By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

SURPRISED by the decision of big man Greg Slaughter to “take a break” from the Philippine Basketball Association after helping the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings to the Governors’ Cup title early this year, Coach Tim Cone said the team is still in steady form and that they are confident of the talents they have on hand when the league resumes from the forced hiatus because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Recently graced Tiebreaker Vods’ Coaches Unfiltered podcast, the PBA’s winningest coach said the decision of Mr. Slaughter to leave the team would have an impact on how the team positions its attack come league resumption but they nonetheless believe they could make the necessary adjustments.

“You know, we still have a lot of weapons,” said Mr. Cone when asked how things would be with the future of Mr. Slaughter, 31, with the team uncertain.

The Barangay Ginebra big man in February announced that he was to take a break. With his contract having expired at the end of last season, he said he would grab the opportunity to step back and work on different aspects of himself.

Interestingly, Mr. Slaughter’s decision came amid talks that he was to be shipped to the Northport Batang Pier for Christian Standhardinger.

“Gregzilla” is currently in the United States where he is reportedly working on his game in the hopes of landing a spot in the NBA G League.

Without Mr. Slaughter, the Kings would turn to its core of veteran players to lead the way with ample support from its young guys, Mr. Cone said.

“We have Japeth (Aguilar), we have Stanley (Pringle), Stanley is somebody who is still very much exploring how to best use his talent and where he fits. We only have him for a conference and a half so there’s a lot still to find out about him, and, of course, LA (Tenorio) and Joe (Devance), you know the whole crew is there,” he said.

“We feel very good about our young guys, some of our younger veterans in Aljon Mariano because he’s just going to continue to improve and be an impact player for us eventually. Of course Art Dela Cruz as well and then our young rookies, we have a lot of fate in Arvin Tolentino, I really like Arvin’s game, me personally. It’s just a matter of whether we could get him to our culture and get him turned on playing how we wanted him to play… We have other options,” Mr. Cone added of his team, which also has Scottie Thompson, Jared Dillinger, Jeff Chan and Mark Caguioa in the roster.

The last time the Kings were seen on the PBA floor they were celebrating their 12th PBA title after defeating the Meralco Bolts, 4-1, in their best-of-seven Governors’ Cup final series.

And winning championships is something the team wants to continue experiencing, along with showing steady improvement collectively, Mr. Cone said.

“Number one it’s never about winning a championship, especially in the PBA where you have the next conference coming quickly. It’s not about winning a championship, so we never talk about winning a championship, it’s always about winning championships with us,” he said.

Adding, “We want to get better from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, if that means we win the All-Filipino at that point, then we’re good. But we’re looking to get better throughout the whole year, not just win each conference I guess that’s why maybe we hold the record for most wins in the third conference ‘cause that’s the philosophy that we take. It’s until you get better.”

The PBA is still shut following its decision to suspend the season on March 11 because of COVID-19. It recently got a break when the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases allowed it to resume doing team practices.